To Myopic Mutts [Moncton Times & Transcript, January 7, 1999]
Gregg Perry [Moncton, NB]
To Myopic Mutts ->
This Moncton band's indie release may not be the future of rock, but it's definitely cutting edge. With their cunningly inventive use of high-brow piano and straight-jacket verbalized pun-and-rhyme lyrics, Zwerg needn't be concerned about competition because they are in a field of their own.
Depending on your medication, the Lewis Carroll cum I Am a Walrus-inspired tale telling is top notch, curdled as it is with grunts, growls and groans, which although they may become a tad predictable mid-way, make for a fascinating collection. Bolstering this is the varied instrumental bits, as beautiful piano pieces as they come. Though it's quite obvious Betts is striving to reach a surrealist level with his combo of talented key-plunking and knack for turning a worth phrase, what really makes To Myopic Mutts work is the schizophrenic feeling to it all, you can read the lyrics, ignore the music and have a great laugh, or you can ignore the lyrics and enjoy some fine arranging. Whether or not this makes waves in Moncton isn't of concern. That it is available and offered presently without corporate backing, is.
-- Greg Perry, Times & Transcript, 1998
Check Out '98 - the year in new music [Watch Magazine, Winter Issue '99]
Austin CLarke [Toronto, ON -National]
...A close second to Rufus on the bizzaro front was Moncton's Zwerg (aka Jason Betts). Where Wainwright is best described as Elton John with contemporary relevance and WITHOUT cheese, Zwerg is the first solo pianist to deserve to be compared to the incomparable Tori Amos. He's a prolific little bugger, too, having coughed up an EP and a full length in the space of 9 months (more info: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sepsis [Open Your Ears, 1999]
Kim Hogg [Halifax, NS -Internet]
Zwerg is a burgeoning artist from Moncton, New Brunswick who is just beginning to receive solid recognition for his work. This past year (1998), CBC's Radio Sonic program received his debut EP Sepsis as their favourite album by a new artist. This past summer Zwerg also released a full-length CD titled To Myopic Mutts. I have heard it, and it is even more stellar than its predecessor.
About Sepsis, I bought this album on recommendation from a friend who managed to get a copy pre-release. From the title, I was not eager to fork over the money, but when I played this album the first time, I was shocked at the overwhelming talent that was compressed into the seven songs.
The lyrics are stirring, and very thought provoking. There is an obvious influence from Zwerg's anticipated trip to Iceland shortly after the release, with tastes of Icelandic on tracks like "Farewell to Arctic Char". The melodies are soothing, solid piano backdrop provides any listener with a tasty piece of ear-candy.
Zwerg is joined by Rick White of Elevator Through Hell fame (formerly members of Moncton's Eric's Trip) on bass, percussion, and kooky sounds. Such kooky sounds according to Zwerg included Rick banging a tin can of pencils on Here Comes the Earth.
The album is so jammed with musical talent, I am entirely satisfied when I am finished listening to it. There are tastes of musicians such as Bjork, Smashing Pumpkins, Tori Amos and Nine Inch Nails, and I am left with The Doors on my palate after Virus Carriers. Zwerg's voice has the sweetly sexy quality of Billy Corgan without the harshly annoying nasalness. This sound is strongly evident on Here Comes the Earth and Brattahlid.
-- Kim Hogg, Open Your Ears, 1999
ZWERG Sepsis [Chart Magazine, May 1998]
Martin Popoff [Toronto, ON -National]
Imagine my surprise when the death metal that I thought I was getting (the look, the titles) turned out to be a unique and harrowing night-time ride of another nature. Zwerg is the domain of one Jason Betts from Moncton, who turns in an intensely homespun performance of barbed, extra tiny piano ditties that sound like Tori Amos, The Inbreds and Smashing Pumpkins, with nods to Syd Barrett and Nick Drake. Very out-there, but quite a thought-provoking trip into frailty. Oh yeah, it's seven tracks totalling fifteen minutes, even though two hours seem to float by. Kinda creepy, really. Contact: 64 Oakmoor Terrace, Moncton NB E1G 1T5. --MP
Zwerg, Sepsis, **** [The Coast, March 19-26, 1998]
Lezlie Lowe [Halifax, NS -Atlantic Canada]
Originality goes a long way. Luckily, that's not all Jason Betts has to go on. Betts is Zwerg--piano and vocals and writer of all songs. He's thrown in Rick White for bass, guitar, percussion and sounds but Zwerg is really Betts. Sepsis is seven tunes founded in Betts' chilling classical piano and severe voice (one that makes you cringe when you listen to it, though not because it's bad, because it must hurt to sing that way, you think). Listening to Sepsis gives you the feeling that Betts has given you an unadulterated glimpse into himself. There's no translation on this disc, no easing of the songs into listenable form and no striving. The music simply is. And that is a very enjoyable thing.