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Z'EV, Minneapolis, MN, April 22, 2007

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It took the Z'EV/Shikara tour rolling into town to drag me out of the house and into a church on this overcast, sluggish Sunday. I’m certainly thankful that I didn’t miss this show since it’s easily the best thing I’ve seen so far this year.

The show was hosted at a former house of worship that has been converted into multiple residences, with a sanctuary that occasionally serves as an informal performance space. Surrounded by stained glass windows, an uprooted tree, and walls adorned with all types of art, the space was both intimate and memorable. The sanctuary's acoustics particularly suited Z'EV's music. He arranged his instruments directly under the apex of the dome, placing the resonating frequencies of his material in the best possible context. I had seen him previously at Brainwaves, and here his set-up was largely the same, a sheet of steel and a steel box suspended at the sides, a large drum at the back, and two titanium pipes propped in front.

Z'EV came out blazing from the onset, attacking the titanium pipes with a ferocious, mind-boggling precision. His shifting rhythms were incredibly complex, producing overtones that were almost melodic as they built to a fiery crescendo. He abruptly shifted to the hanging sheet, eliciting groans from the metal and filling the sanctuary with what could have been transmigratory transmissions or foghorn warnings from the ether. Vast overtones gave voice to the metal, hovering and babbling overhead. Then Z'EV turned to his steel box without a pause, rattling nervous shimmers from it that eventually erupted into a hollow yet all-encompassing roar. He next focused on the drum at the back, rubbing its skin to draw forth stressed moans of reverberating tones before hitting it with huge rattles that sounded like sifting sand through a pulse that became polyrhythmic, almost sounding too complex to be performed live by one person. When he went back to the hanging sheet, with a staccato pattern he created a texture that sounded implausible coming from an acoustic instrument. Toward the end of this piece, the music wavered between the delicate and the exorcistic.

At the end of the show, at the audience's behest, Z'EV gave us something he said we can one day tell our grandkids about because he never does it: an encore. For this, he brought out the base of a patio table and leaned it perpendicularly against the drum so as to elicit a secondary rhythm as well as to amplify the sounds of the new instrument.

There was absolutely no downtime in Z'EV's set, no obvious moments for applause or banter. Instead, he ensnared the audience from the beginning with his hypnotic exegesis of the language of metal, teaching us all a new vocabulary in the process. His performance was absolutely mesmeric.

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 February 2011 09:26  


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