Zip Tang has released their 5th studio album Private Shangri-La -- their first release as a progressive power trio!
Fred Faller - drums
Perry Merritt - vocals, guitar, synthesizers
Rick Wolfe - bass, vocals
Zip Tang has evolved into a power trio ala Cream, The Who
and a bit of Rush with melodic elements of Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree and King Crimson.
Zip Tang began as a conversation between Perry Merritt and Rick Wolfe at a local jam session in a suburb of Chicago, IL. in 2003. The idea was to start a fun little project covering some of their favorite artists' music - Steely Dan, Jeff Beck, Traffic, Yes, King Crimson, etc... The search began for a drummer and keyboard player, and Fred's audition locked in the core trio of the band then known as RPM. With no luck finding a keyboard player, Fred brought in his orchestral mate from the College Of Dupage big jazz band - Marcus Padgett - who played saxophone and a little keyboards.
Soon after the name was changed to Zip Tang and the decision was made to start writing original material. The first album released in 2007 - Luminiferous Ether - gained some recognition with the track "Tower Of Tuna" and their interpretation of the "Tarkus" suite by ELP. The next album Pank was warmly welcomed by critics and was nominated for best progressive rock album by the "grass roots Grammys" organization Just Plain Folks in 2009. Great reviews continued with the two follow up releases Feed Our Heads and Das Reboot. In the summer of 2015 ZT v2.0 released their fifth collection of tunes Private Shangri-La.
Chicago-based Zip Tang have stayed true to themselves, at least as concerns their independence. "Das Reboot" is their 4th album, and the quartet is continuing to stay clear of record labels and contracts. This self-determination also lies at the root of their unconventional and partially obscurity-free music.
In my view, Zip Tang is the other progressive band whose freaky Frank Zappa references allows them to score points for their remarkable constancy. The twelve songs specified in the track list of "Das Reboot" vary from Zappaesk music to a parallel field remotely evoking Pink Floyd. Zip Tang not only features gorgeous layers of keyboards, but also different types of saxophones performed by Marcus Padgett. Originality is the keyword on this album.
Three of the four musicians employ their vocals remarkable effect. Adding to the exquisite lead vocals, the choirs help building dream castles of another kind. Even excursions into a cathedral are allowed, such as in middle section of "I'm Still Here". Brilliant! This interlude creates a vocal bridge between the dreamy, floating beginning, crunching rock featuring noisy guitar riffing and a massively arranged final section that threatens to rip the entire act from its moorings. Especially the guitars and the saxophone work out on a weighty level.
What happens in-between the opening track "Grain of Sand", featuring experimental approaches, and the above-mentioned final track "I'm Still Here" features numerous highlights. If you’re not familiar with Zip Tang, be warned that this album too delivers once again a ticket for a frantic roller coaster ride. And as is well known, once you’re in, there’s no going back during the ride, and during Zip Tang’s "Das Reboot", you will be taken through many unforgettable moments. But be warned... the quartet can be quite demanding on the listener. Open-mindedness is a basic assumption.
Seven and a half minutes is how long "Butterfly Tattoos" takes. And if you think this is going to be something dreamy, you’re wrong. There’s hardly time to breathe or calm down. The band also uses powerful dynamics and double leads to create violently rocking music. Using distorted vocals, Zip Tang serves "10,000 Nachos", featuring a naughty-sounding saxophone playing by Marcus Padgett. But rather than satiating you, ingesting this track will make you seek out a liquid capable of alleviating its musical heat. Hasta la vista! And here they go again, tickling our auditive tubes.
Zip Tang are unpredictable. "Das Reboot" is like a powerfully stretched bow, but these four artists never go so far as to stretch things beyond the breaking point. The band never seems to leave its own, ample universe. Apart from down-to-earth music, the listener is taken into worlds of sound whose existence one didn’t know of. On the whole, the band stays off beaten paths, walking a tightrope over a deep chasm. Don‘t ever look down! Zip Tang possess the equilibrium it takes to cross the abyss. Even after their 4th album, the band shows no faltering in fitness. "Das Reboot" is a melting pot. Stunning! We’d love to see them play in our country ... or at least experience through an equivalent sound medium.
Joachim 'Joe' Brookes