If you haven’t heard our WOTT Music episode with Z, do so now!
Take any singular track from Z‘s latest release, Trauma Center, and you may find yourself experiencing a chunky onslaught of riffs and snotty vocals mixed with effusive screaming, or you might find a sweet pop song with programmed drums, or maybe a sound collage of found sounds and rave style throbbing beats. Somehow, Z is able to weave together a massive sum of influences and styles into one cohesive unit that feels refreshingly diverse instead of alarmingly sporadic.
It’s worth noting that Expecting the Unexpected is normal when it comes to Z. Their Cassette Day EP MAGNUFEEK is a dark and foreboding trip into 90’s Club Kid sounds, while BarbedWire.org is largely full of bombastic, dance-y, indie rock songs. Trauma Center is an entirely different sound altogether but the fruits of their labors have never been traditionally consistent.
All told, Trauma Center is a much heavier experience than what we’ve heard before. Even with the dark songs of Magnufeek or BarbedWire‘s album closer “The Burner” we haven’t heard this level of intensity from the band previously. There’s been a few lineup changes since the original inception and they’ve been on the road pretty much continuously for the past year, so it’s impossible to know if this shift is due to the outfits natural growth or if it’s a direct nod to the fact that the album is called Trauma Center – in which an onslaught of sound would certainly be on theme. In reality, it’s probably a little bit of Column A and little bit of Column B.
All reflective history aside, the album taken as a whole is an immersive trip that should be taken in from start to finish as it feels broken up into movements. I’m not calling it a concept album but every three tracks seems to capture a different vibe; from an intense onslaught, to a descent into nightmare, to a lighter emergence from said darkness. It’s a reach but the tracklist certainly seems curated to oscillate between fevered intensity and a quick respite. The collection ends on a four track suite that seems to repeat and summarize the entirety of the experience through a wildly different choice in instrumentation, primarily consisting of samples and beats.
My fandom for the diversity of the band likely clouds my judgment on being able to comment on it in a more direct way. It’s a big riff rock record with plenty of screaming, broken up with somewhat poppier, comparatively gentler, rock songs. But the fact that there’s ten minutes of rave at the end makes it impossible for me to think of this as anything less than Completely Special.