Reviews

of Zone Works

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Sword Of The Sun

DozensOfDonuts
rateyourmusic.com
Nov 09 2018

A surprisingly clairvoyant album that doesn’t linger on any one Dark Ambient trope for too long. Hell, the 10-minute standout ‘The Wheel Of Light’ sounds like a massive precursor to Vaporwave. The percussive ‘Stolen Lightning’ and synth haven ‘Sunbathing’ are late album treats, especially after the desultory Ambient passages attempt to relinquish attention.

unearth
rateyourmusic.com
November 2008
5/5

Like a field trip through subatomic zoological gardens.

echoinggrove
rateyourmusic.com
September 2006
4.5/5

I’d nearly forgotten how beautiful Sword of the Sun is in its own right, overshadowed as it tends to be by the breathtaking vocal fugues and thematic brilliance of Zone’s proper debut album, Born of Fire.

Released as the initial Zone offering, Sword of the Sun is more accurately considered a collection of pieces created separately by Swansea’s Andrew Cadmore and Chris Brandrick prior to their collaboration as Zone. Etheric workings inspired by Eno, Throbbing Gristle, Tangerine Dream, and Italo Calvino’s Mr. Palomar. Protoplasmic electro-organic/orgonic ambience, sublimated tape-looped rhythms, and traces of ethnomusical tinkering make this comparable to :zoviet*france: or Rapoon. But Zone always overlays a scrim of delicate melodicism and near-sacred (some might say Gothic) atmosphere that calls to mind the ancient instrumental music of Dead Can Dance or David Toop & Max Eastley.

Biba Kopf
The Wire
1988

Round Up The Usual Suspects

Electronic Music for the mind and body. The hoariest argument ever produced by the propagandists of the tyranny of rhythm ruling the popular culture is the one claiming a music can only be physical when it’s walked all over by a four-square dance rhythm. The statement is invariably backed up with the somewhat dubious contention that anything refusing severe dance regimentation is somehow abstract head music totally lacking in feeling. Well, here’s a new sine wave of cottage industry-produced electronic music that severs at the neck once and for all those who insist on a separation of head and heart…

Journey Through A Body was the title of an infamous Throbbing Gristle bootleg. It is also a most apt description of Zone’s Sword Of The Sun (Potentia Records, Potentia House, 12 Martell Street, Fforestfach, Swansea, SA5 8HX or from Rough Trade Shop). Zone are a (presumably) Welsh group who generate the most elemental noises this side of a volcanic eruption and organise them into great blasting pieces like “Stopping The World” (it’s all over within seconds) or into deep reverberating tone patterns capable of agitating less than secure structures to the point where they collapse (“To The Centre Of The Cyclone”). Impressive party tricks you’ll agree. But what really makes Zone’s record so exemplary is their compositional range. Some pieces take shelter under a great yawning umbrella of noise electronically expanded from a single source, while others tap nervous energies to fuel pulsing rhythm workouts. The sort of record Tarkovsky’s Stalker might dance to.

Lance Johnson
Offbeat #Two
October 1988

From Swansea with tales of religious cults and music being sacred, Zone make an album’s worth of ambience, punctuated by rhythmic chants and emotive movements. This is the kind of album that people profess to enjoy strange sexual endeavours to, or even visualise their God after. Not as heated and debatable as Scorseses The Temptation Of Christ but moving in the same area and answering no questions.

Dean Suzuki
Option Magazine
1988

Excellent debut recording from a Welsh outfit whose music fits loosely in the ambient/industrial, electro-acoustic vein, with heavy processed, muted, and muffled sounds which are looped and repeated. The raw materials include taped or sampled found sounds, as well as electronically generated tones. As with all good repetitive music, Zone layers other sonic material over the incessant ostinatos, providing different levels of interest and varying textures: more depths to plumb. The music often has a menacing and mysterious quality, as well as a somewhat exotic feel. Thus, one can find elements of Throbbing Gristle, recent Asmus Tietchens, Peter Frohmader, J. Greinke, Jon Flassell, and Brian Eno mixed into a weird, eerie, wonderful, and most satisfying whole. This is available as a cassette, and for you collectors, also as a limited edition vinyl disc of only 100 numbered copies.

Alan Freeman
Audion #9
August 1988

A time capsule has opened and out of the past comes a lost sound, resurrected with new found vitality! Entering the Zone one finds a music we once called “industrial” accompanied by the atmosphere of post-apocalyptic terror. Dark and mysterious this music lurks, casts cold stark shadows and moves most strangely.

Placing frames of reference on this album could well do more harm than good, as Zone’s style of instrumental electronic music is quite individual, but having said that, actual description is most difficult. So take, for instance the stark spacious instrumental music of Throbbing Gristle, add a little bit of Asmus Tietchens weirdness, a tinge of ethnic and neo-classical music, and you’ve got some of the most devastatingly glamorous music to appear on record since…?

Shamefully, the LP is a limited edition of 100 numbered copies, so make sure you’re quick in ordering (unless you’re happy with it on tape) if you don’t want to miss out: it’s only £6.25 (Inc. P&P) anyway! [Potentia]

Beautiful Machine

Felix Cromey
Art Booknews No.2
Winter 1990/91

The Artist’s book presented here is quite conventional in terms of production and presentation. It takes the form of a hand bound, hardback consisting of predominantly colour and black and white graphics and four pages of text which presage the images. The images themselves are individually hand printed and are protected by an interleaving page. The size of the book is not unusual either and it is not difficult to shelve. It does have a certain presence however, through the plain lettering on the spine.

Themes in each chapter are all interrelated becoming unified in the fourth chapter whose brief is to allow for absolute complexity within the utter simplicity of unity. At first appraisal this may appear to be asking a lot of the printed page. So in the reading Zone expect as much tolerance and love for others. It seems that a beautiful machine may as much be a metaphor for the World in which we live as it is a method of travel conveying the soul from spiritual desert to oasis. The images support the text in a vaguely surreal fashion in that the use of montage has allowed Zone to divulge surprising and imaginative juxtapositions. This resonates most satisfyingly with the plate entitled The Treader of the Dust. A factory interior peopled by workers positioning a long torpedo beneath a precariously mounted Sphinx. In appearing to hover this Sphinx is a Cheshire Cat both friendly and menacing: ‘The cat only grinned when it saw Alice. It looked good-natured, she thought, still it had very long claws…’

Born Of Fire

ZippyZoppy
Discogs
31 Jul 2020

Words simply cannot describe the power and beauty of this magnificent release. It remains as majestic as it was the day two extremely talented gentlemen introduced it to the world in 1991. A “must” for anyone remotely interested in “post industrial”, “dark ambient”, “neoclassical”, Gregorian Chants or even “apocalyptic folk”. Diarmaid Hynes’ deep, resonant voice and his delicate acoustic guitar make “The Butterfly Effect” one of the most hauntingly beautiful pieces ever committed to any audio format. Alas, Mr. Hynes is no longer with us. May he rest in peace. “Look, our life is fleeting, Fleeting now gone.”

unearth
rateyourmusic.com
November 2008
4.5/5

Before Ulver set up camp in the post-Gothic cathedral of infinite echoing corridors, Zone cleared the debris of forgotten civilizations, making it habitable for the upright apes who dream of nebulous bodies floating through the solar flares of alien stars. Born of Fire doesn’t dismantle the mind as expertly as Sword of the Sun, but its slightly awkward longing makes it the more human album.

echoinggrove
rateyourmusic.com
September 2006
5/5

“Beautiful Machine,” with its harmonized call-and-response chanting, carillon bells, stately piano chords, and organ-and-string coloration, may be one of the most sublime pieces of secular music ever created. As an expression of near-holy awe at the fearful symmetry of Nature’s design, it’s the equal of William Blake and serves as a heart-in-throat overture to Zone’s proper debut album.

The bells die away as the tribal “Heart of the Atom (Ground Zero)” offers remorseful devotion to an Earth fated to be scorched and scarred by manmade fires. The inevitable moment of immolation is as harrowing as one would expect.

From the ashes rises not the Phoenix but a singular butterfly, a perfect if evanescent emblem of hope which Zone serenades with a hymn-like folk orison, “The Butterfly Effect.” Planetary rebirth begins with the rhythmic morphogenesis of the title track, an igneous ballet of proteins and ionic gases that sets the evolutionary stage for the re-emergence of Life – again in the form of the fragile “Butterfly” theme.

Okay, so it’s just an album, not a post-Apocalyptic prequel to a new Darwinian Testament. But it’s exquisite, and it deserves to be heard. Unfortunately it is also yet another tragic casualty of the dissolution of World Serpent Distribution.

Interior Motives
CD Baby
2005

Born of an otherworldy vision.
Zone aren’t that well known outside cult electronica circles, which is a shame. Their low profile has kept them safe from compromise, but it’s time more people in the know knew about their four albums. It’s intense music, but never too heavy. Like meditation by other means. If you love music that turns your head *and* expands it…

Monica
CD Baby
2005

It’s great! If you have a soul, don’t loose this music… It’s a masterpiece!

Brian Duguid
ESTWeb Index
1995

Zone tell us that their one aim is to communicate to the listener Love, Light and Life. Yes, it does sound a little bit twee. But, against all expectation Born of Fire succeeds. This is a mature, perfectly poised album. At times it’s serene and delightful, as on Beautiful Machine, which announces itself with a single bold chord, going on to combine Gregorian chant, bright, clear piano, bells and soft synths to create something refreshing and beautiful. At others, it becomes more intense, creating a shimmer of wailing sound via peculiarly harmonised synths and rhythmic percussion, although it’s never overbearing. Miles from New Age nonsense or shapeless soundtrack noodling, this is purposeful, emotive, expressive music. My only criticism is that there simply isn’t enough of it.

Dean Suzuki
Background Issue #33
February 1993

To say that Zone creates some truly stunning music is an understatement. Though worlds apart from their first, limited edition LP, which focused on dark, gothic electronics, this CD lives up to the standards set by their initial effort.

It opens with ‘Beautiful Machine’, a simply devastatingly gorgeous work. This eleven plus minute work combines a most exquisite, polyphonic medieval sounding Kyrie with piano and electronics in a way that is at once sumptuous, yet merely ostentatious or overblown. As befitting a mass movement, it exudes a reverent majesty and ecclesiastical solemnity, underscored by the church bells and organ-like timbres of the electronics.

‘Heart Of The Atom (Ground Zero)’ is quite different with its world music samplings and borrowings, which range from energetic African poly-rhythms to doleful Asian modes along with a plethora of exotic instruments such as strange double reed instruments, flutes, gongs, drums and bells, that seem to be derived from Japanese Gagaku, Moroccan dervish ceremonies, and other ritual music, not to mention some kind of Middle Eastern incantation and other non-Western singing. The resultant music is a rich multi-cultural bleed which is at once timeless and contemporary. universal and quite Western.

Only in the title-track does ZONE spotlight sinister and luxuriant electronics, though even here the approach is more rhythmic, if not a bit more accessible. The only miscue on the recording is ‘The Butterfly Effect’ and its reprise at the very end which features a kind of poor man’s ‘Dead Can Dance’ style, though the primary melody is rather banal and overworked and the singing without strength or conviction. Otherwise this is a splendid recording worth seeking out.

Music From The Empty
Quarter #2
August 1991

Zone’s Born of Fire is a musical interpretation of their book Beautiful Machine. The recordings represent the themes of Awakening, Struggle, Humility and Unity, apparent in their writings. The music itself attains an air of religious splendour, a grandeur only attained through a cleansing of the mind. Many would class the opening Beautiful Machine in classical circles, with its use of clear, open spaces and neo-religious singing. Heart Of The Atom (Ground Zero) is a delicate binding of soft voice and oriental synth motifs and rhythms, while the acoustic guitar of The Butterfly Effect is as flickering, as the creature portrayed. The title track reminds of Vasilisk, with murmuring synth and hypnotic percussion, but they close with (Reprise), a shimmering of past beauty. Zone are two people, sharing in their intentment of a need for expression and communication. Though their creativeness is not only musical, the side of their output as expressed here, is a joyous existence.

Albert Durand
Revve Et Corrsgée, No.7
1991

Translated from the original French Text

‘Born Of Fire’ is the second album from Zone after ‘Sword Of The Sun’ [100 copies (?)] released in 1988. The new recording from these Englishmen from Swansea all at once deceives and seduces. It appears to be out of its time in displaying freshness and clarity. Four pieces in complete musical opposition composed of:

  1. Religious chants sung by a core of men and the spontaneous pealing of bells. ‘Beautiful Machine’.
  2. Rhythmic progression (explosion) by the gradual grafting of new timbres up to a final rupture. ‘Heart Of The Atom’.
  3. Duet of mixed vocal’s for a Spring-like ballad, founded on acoustic guitar, violin and percussion. ‘The Butterfly Effect’.
  4. Slow rise in harmonic power generated by synthesisers. ‘Born Of Fire’.

Zone thus mark their Interest in diversity, crossing four themes which in themselves have nothing in opposition: ‘Awakening’, ‘Struggle’, ‘Humility’ and ‘Unity’. This impeccable production writes itself into a musical trilogy and makes from Zone a remarkable work that perfectly masters (keeps control of) its subjects with/by a poetic language going right to the body (heart?).

Vittore Baroni
Rockerolla No.125
1991

Translated from the original Italian text

Of course, opinions differ over the diverse post-industrial experience as to whether it proceeds along the path of consumerism or goes down the blind alley of noise, repetition and self-indulgence. In reality, the most recent recordings rooted in “industrial culture” have learnt to develop in new and (fortunately?) unclassifiable directions, taking on board both traditional music and more apparently irreconcilable cultural stimuli to create potentially enjoyable works to anyone who applies their sincere intellectual curiosity. The Welsh group ‘Zone’ are certainly more eligible to make this assertion and, without taking away the rough charm of ‘Sleep Chamber’ permit me to advise, with particular enthusiasm, to listen to the CD ‘Born Of Fire’ that follows the LP ‘Sword Of The Sun’, released a couple of years ago in an ultra-limited edition. “Zone is a creative unit, based in the United Kingdom, who recognise the apparently differing individual, social and religious needs inherent in all cultures as permutations upon the central NEED for Love, Life and Light.” is what is stated on the cover of this work produced by Andrew Cadmore and Chris Brandrick, with the help of their guests: a work not at all “negative” and unlistenable, but which moves from the measured techno-ethnology of ‘Heart Of The Atom’ to the very ambient electronic mysticism of ‘Born Of Fire’, from the sumptuous Gregorian chants of ‘Beautiful Machine’ to the unexpected acoustic folk of the ‘Butterfly Effect’ (with female lead vocal and Celtic melody similar to the Incredible String Band!), it all pulls together into an admirable spiritual severity on an invisible thread that binds the Arabic monastery represented on the front cover of the package with the Atomic Bomb Memorial Dome on the back. Don’t be afraid of the sacred fire of Zone, listen and absorb what is communicated.

Edwin Pouncey
New Musical Express
April 1991

Zone are a two-man team from Swansea who have a musical vision that is mysterious and their own. Their first record was an LP entitled ‘Sword Of The Sun’, a work which the pair decided to release on the day that Swansea officially became a nuclear free zone. Their second project was a hand-bound volume of graphics, a grimoire of sorts which explained pictorially the entire Zone philosophy.

‘Born Of Fire’ is the follow up to ‘Sword Of The Sun’ where the general themes of Awakening, Struggle. Humility and Unity are given more musical and atmospheric scope. All very strange stuff you may well be thinking. But there is a pulse to Zone’s work and a kind of hideous beauty which reveals itself slowly to the careful listener.

Huge slabs of gothic atmosphere are erected during ‘Beautiful Machine’ only to be torn down and replaced by something more delicate on ‘The Butterfly Effect’.

‘Born Of Fire’ is meant to be listened to as a complete piece, but individual sections can be singled out without too much damage being caused. Zone are a strange and powerful force that you should plug into as soon as possible.

Jim O’Rourke
1990

Simply the best of endorsements. Listen to the words of Jim O’Rourke after listening to an advance copy of ‘Born Of Fire’, back in 1990. Thanks Jim!

The Divine Simplicity

enfantterrible
Discogs

2 Dec 2012
5/5

How could someone may create the genesis of human life over the planet as a sonic opus?
How to compile the multiplicity from history in just one gap of sound or noise?
This work its somehow an attempt to do that and at certain point it does manage to fulfil that. A transient compendium of atmospherics in which many epochs succeed while the listener’s only guidance is the pulse of evolving percussion. Hypnotically revealing the eras through an array of different backgrounds while beat frequency and cadence morphs into a new scenarios that fuses its form with the past ones. The ordeal Gains magnitude and complexity through the ever changing waves of atmospheric chants, sometimes sacred, sometimes profane forming a vista in which future and past intertwines in a complex web of different shapes, indifferentiated to each other.

Zone creates a fine aural loom in which ambience created with a great variety of chants, instrumental passages and effects summed with rhythm mutually procreates an antique and futuristic landscape, not entirely delivered as a solo meditative piece but as manifest of captivating beat drive with a strong tribal scent.

Initiated by the sounds of sands over the desert in which the aural testament from history remain as a memory prefigured with the chants and the rhythms and later on the second track all the rhythms and atmospherics slowly fall engulfed into a cacophonous guitar violently tearing apart everything in an ever incadescent wall of hellish noise that once again fades away in the perennial sound from the sands of time.

Deep work with a pretentious attitude that manages to achieve the concept it intended to. A work for the mind and the heart.

Gregory Samson
Abstract Review
Sept 1997

A great deal is said and written now about the ‘inner’ life, but forgotten almost entirely is what is ‘innerly, or – as defined in one old dictionary – ‘more within’. Their fascination with pan-cultural expressions of mystical and spiritual sentiment and sound already established on their first two albums, Zone here go deeper. Yes, there is the industrial edge, but perhaps only as a boundary or container for a search in music through the innerly qualities of space, time and life that hold us hostage to love. Divided into two nearly equal parts, the first of which, Desert Winds, is a strange drifting and gyrating sandstorm of sound that comes to rest only after some minutes of purposeful agitation. Then segueing into a more pastoral but proactive section characterised by religious chanting and plaintive piano, it becomes more meditative and patient with itself. As with everything Zone do, there is an attention to detail and genuine sense of not just searching but also finding, and it is this rare latter expression that makes their sometimes lonely and even troubled music as potent as it can be poignant. It is hard not be moved by this very human music, informed as it is by the nervous modernity of machines and too much thought, that moves at times hesitantly to a declaration of, if not freedom, then independence. When Desert Winds resumes its more powerful motion, it is with a feeling of confidence, a propulsive snare underpinning a strangely detached sample of mystic chanting that makes you stand back and listen with a peculiar clarity.

The Wisdom of the Prophets, which constitutes the second half of the album, once again builds a kind of sonic sacred geometry upon a shifting, modern soundscape. At first more gentle, it soon accelerates into competing layers of strident and syncopated rhythms generated by a number of instruments harking us back, paradoxically, to a timeless place. It is this conscious, engineered collision of the apparent past and notional future in a present rendered real that makes Zone’s music and approach at once enervating and intimidating and, at times, elusive. Saturated with so many cultural influences and traditions as to make fixity of origin a futile pursuit, this is music that is made at once for its own sake and for that of all who listen to it.

From the inner to the innerly, not wider, but deeper, Zone continue to bring their mind into their music with marvellous focus. Not for fake-hearted.

John Marshall
Flux Europa
May 1997

The Divine Simplicity (1994 ZONE CD004) by Zone provides powerful ambient music for conjuring spells from the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

John Marshall writes: Lots of different styles fade into one another. Some of it is pretty hypnotic: other times it’s eerie. Some of it would sound good in a wildlife documentary or on a film soundtrack. Track 2 starts out a bit like something from Clockwork Orange, but underwater! Then, when the piano comes in, it’s a bit like Lydia Lunch’s Drowning of Lucy Hamilton but more unnerving, less aggressive.

Chris Twomey
New Powers Music
Autumn 1994

3rd CD from mystically-influenced British duo, their first new recordings in 4 years. Their previous CD, Born Of Fire (just reissued), had samples of Asian music, Tibetan horns, Gregorian chant, church bells, with their music on piano, synths, drums and female/male vocals. The new one has 2 long tracks over 46 minutes, which add more World chants, tribal drumming and guitar feedback to the neo-classical mix. Desert Winds and The Wisdom Of The Prophets are made up of shifting sections, with the drumming coming in and out of the mix. ‘A’ for the effort and production, ‘B’ for the results. Nice booklet and picture disc of photos from religious sites.

Angel of Freedom

ArthurYanthar
rateyourmusic.com
April 2010
4.5/5

One of the most varied albums I’ve ever heard. It sounded like every song was made a different band. This has left me captivated throughout the whole album. However it’s impossible for me to decide what genres to tag this with.

Interior Motives
CD Baby
2005

Unusual, amazing, liberating: Zone.
It really is difficult to nail Zone. Their transformations go on, widely spaced, all content and no style except themselves. This is powerful electronic music, industrial to a point, elsewhere bordering on free jazz and contemporary classical boundary-pushers. If you value originality and elegance, look no further.

Gregory Samson
Abstract Review
Feb 2001

In the six years since their last release, The Divine Simplicity, music has changed. The first Zone album to be recorded entirely digitally, it is also – after the seductive discovery phase which witnessed so much of it for the band – one that is not at all dependent on sampling. In sense this is Zone’s most direct and conventional album, its unifying theme of the motivation through love to freedom and enlightenment sublimated to the music itself, which is not as explicitly religious as it had been on its predecessor, where two long pieces forced the listener to co-operate in an exploration of its mystic, mythic themes. Paradoxically, through its very structure and discipline, Angel of Freedom is the more liberating of the two albums; The Divine Simplicity had sweep and a peculiar grandeur, but lacked the variety of this album, which veers from intimations of jazz to flashes of idiosyncratic brilliance more reminiscent of Robert Fripp than Psychic TV.

Beginning with Other Lives, a mixed meditation on the intertwining of lives through time, with Jeremy Gluck on vocals, the album then jumps to the clattering but harmonious Totality, featuring some sinuous saxophone from Roland Ellis that sets the tone for the bemusing journey this album represents, being a soundtrack of sorts for a Europe lost in itself to the East and surrendered to its fate. Indeed, this sense of the Occident and Orient in uneasy mutual recognition and collaboration often visits this work, which poised on the 21st century is bound to contain elements of its timestamp of a transition full for some of foreboding. What will be sacrificed, seems to be the keynote question at times, as – on Exorcising Attachment, for example – wordless vocals sounding Japanese in nature bring into close contact the feeling of the East and West on a middle ground of uncertain assignation. Clever, perverse, and even witty, this is part of the new Zone, with band’s enduring duo of Andrew Cadmore and Chris Brandrick more at ease and effortless than usual, the cerebral pursuits of wonder now transformed to a gentler but more incisive flux rendered tangible on the gorgeous Herald Of Coming Good, a sprightly effusion of chastened wonder. Eros, whose face – in the form of a treated image of an ancient statue – graces the album’s cover, is again gentle, but with that subtext of energetic shedding of the superficial that here makes Zone more prescient than pleasant, a perception confirmed by the closing track, Scavenging Soul (The Benefactor) a lengthy piece hosting a spoken word journey over crisp, mechanical loops. The graduated, small tension of the title track, a slip of a song based on acoustic instruments, that moves from a shy suggestion of the possibilities of growth to a more expansive assertiveness is what this strange and powerful album is really all about: big on the inside.

RIK
Flux Europa
25th July 2000

It’s been six long years since Zone’s last – and sublime – album, The Divine Simplicity. This new CD from Chris Brandrick and Andrew Cadmore reflects a more varied approach with some strongly song-based material and some progressive jazz sax courtesy of Roland Ellis. The title track is a pleasant ambient instrumental with filmic qualities, ‘Golden Rain’ has a Celtic sound, whilst ‘Frozen In Heaven’ is soft mood music with an Andean theme inspired by a TV archaeology program about an Inca sacrifice.

A collaboration with Jeremy S Gluck reading his own poetry reaches its fullest expression on the 21-minute final track, ‘Scavenging Soul (The Benefactor)’.

Alien Nature

Tony Dickie
compulsiononline.com
Jan 2006

It’s a wonder that Chris Brandrick and Andrew Cadmore the duo behind Zone aren’t more widely known in experimental circles. Zone were an early signing to World Serpent and while others have gone onto greater things, the Welsh duo have been left somewhat languishing. Alien Nature represents their fifth album and the first airing of material since the demise of World Serpent. It’s a confusing and frustrating release – and I mean that in a positive way – fusing together experimental, electronic, experimental electronics and electro-acoustic with ethnic music, sound poetry and at least one nod to neo-classical. And that’s just the first couple of tracks.

The rhythmic electronics that feature on Alien Nature are, at times, not too far removed from the works of Chris and Cosey or Carter Tutti. ‘Deluge’ is a case in point that despite the abrasiveness maintains a melodic feel. Even the pulsating beat of ‘He Came Out To Me’ ensures it remains quite accessible despite the layered electronics appearing to fold in on themselves, and the occasional appearance of wailing ethnic instruments. ‘Chinese Whispers’ absorbs an electro rhythm from flickering chime like sounds, tablas and playful piano stabs. For around nine minutes the rhythms continue unabated in mantra like fashion. Spacey sounds and varied electronics are looped to create a hypnotic and beguiling track.

‘Duchamps Cycle’ sets shards of TG-esque electronics against a ticking clock. It’s immediately followed by an evocative piano score and gentle keyboards. The giddy sounds of ‘The Cabinet’ feature playful rhythms, electronic noodling and snare drumming that evoke visions of a sinister troop of Toy Town soldiers. The vast array of sounds that Zone have at their fingertips is inspiring but as each track adopts elements of varied styles it becomes somewhat intimidating. It’s a testament to their diversity and creativity that I was literally tired out after trying to pin this album down.

The shuddering vibrations, drones and alien rhythms of ‘Attacking The Heart’ display an other (third?/fourth?) dimension to the group. It’s followed by ‘No More Words’ which pits the poetry of Jeremy S. Gluck against jarring electronics. Its by far the best of the collaboration with the wordsmith, as the words have to battle against the treated and twisted sounds. The spectral electronics, reverberating tones and otherworldly hums of ‘Dream Abuse’ complete the trinity of tracks that could easily be consumed by Coil, Cyclobe et al enthusiasts. An albums worth of material in this vein would certainly be worthwhile.

Alien Nature is a bewildering release and one that I think the more adventurous listener would enjoy; it’s certainly a release that deserves wider exposure.

Cedric
side-line.com
Dec 2005

The duo of Zone brings a wide spectrum of ambient influences. It starts in a rather electro-ambient way, but rapidly moves into experimental collages and later on into pure cold ambient parts and even neo-classical inspired cuts. The cold ambient “Dream abuse” and the rhythm driven “Chinese whispers” are the best parts of this honest and diversified composition.

Tocafi
musik.terrorverlag.de
Nov 2005

Ihre Homepage (Potentia Zone) hat nichts mit Viagra zu tun, ihr Albumtitel nichts mit Sigourney Weaver, ihr Bandname nichts mit der DDR. Dennoch läge ZONE nichts ferner, als ihre Hörer in die Irre zu führen.

Das hätten sie auch gar nicht nötig. Schließlich frickelten Chris Brandrick und Andrew Cadmore bereits an ihren Geräten herum, als der Verfasser dieser Zeilen gerade die PET SHOP BOYS entdeckte. So kommt es auch, dass die beiden vom Pressefoto nicht colgateweiß strahlen wie, sagen wir, Neil Tennant und Nick Lowe, sondern eher wie die inzwischen schon pensionierten ORBITAL. Kein ZONE-Poster an den Türen Popcorn-lesender Teen-Mädchen also, kein Special in der Bravo. Dafür aber eine Scheibe, welche locker alle Hürden gängiger Kategorien überspringt und seine ganze „Altersweisheit“ in ungewöhnliche Strukturen und vielschichtige Kompositionen fließen lässt: „Alien Nature“ ist ein wahres Wunderwerk wildwuchernder Welten aus Klang, Krach und kosmischer Harmonie. Da verbinden sich warme Blechbläser mit einem traurigen Klavier, finden asiatisch anmutende Melodien und singende Streicher zusammen, steigert sich ein einfaches Gedicht zu einem eindringlichen Geflecht aus Stimme, Flächen und schillernd leuchtenden Sound-Partikeln. Vor allem letztere haben es ZONE angetan, so dass dieses Album in allen Farben des Regenbogens zu leuchten scheint.

Ihre Musik hat nichts mit Industrial zu tun, nichts mit Ambient und nichts mit reiner Klangmalerei. Dennoch ist sie all das. Wenn man einfach hinhört, statt zu viel nachzudenken, wird einen das nicht verwirren, sondern vielmehr begeistern.

Tom Wilms
Gonzo
Oct/Nov 2005

In de gezegende jaren tachtig ontstond Zone. Het resultaat van de vereende adoratie voor ambient, industriële noise, en tribale muziek van Andrew Cadmore en Chris Brandrick. ‘Alien Nature’ is hun vijfde album, en naar goede gewoonte in de avant garde kringen verschenen op een gelimiteerde oplage. Niet verwonderlijk dat ze ook verdeeld werden door World Serpent Distribution, waar ze naast namen als Throbbing Gristle in de catalogus prijkten. Maar de muziek die we te horen krijgen is voor de maatstaven van de experimentele muziek redelijk toegankelijk. De opening track is een samengaan van zware intense noise zoals we die kennen van Gerome Nox en de tribale repetitieve klanken van bijvoorbeeld African Head Charge. En de heimat klanken van de doedelzak in ‘He Came Out To Me’ worden mooi ingepast in een cadans van elektronische noise. Dat repetitieve ritmische aspect maakt hun muziek zeer toegankelijk. Naast dit tribale aspect en de elektronica hebben de heren het ook voor klassiek. ‘Enchanted Domain’ is zo een sober nummer waar een ingetogen piano melodie centraal staat, aangevuld met wat spaarzame blazers. En ‘The Cabinet’ klinkt dan weer middeleeuws heidens. Met andere woorden Zone etaleert zich op ‘Alien Nature’ als een kunstig geluidproject met veel gezichten, waarbij elk nummer een sterk eigen karakter heeft. Dit maakt het afwisselend maar om toch een punt van kritiek aan te halen, het is te uiteenlopend. De individuele nummers zijn sterk maar als geheel is het te divers.

Mistress McCutchan
morbidoutlook.com
Oct 2005

Zone is a Welsh duo with a trancey, avant-garde album: a throwback to early industrial, a la Throbbing Gristle. There are bouts of more readily palatable tracks in the mix, such as Enchanted Domain, with its basic, sorrowful piano, and Sun Blessed, with its Orientalesque electronica, as well as occasional spoken word that breaks up the ambience, but this is an experimental album. In my opinion, it’s too monotonous to go anywhere, although I’m sure some clever DJs would swipe some tidbits here and there.

Phoenix
metal.de
Sept 2005

Um Gottes Willen, was soll das denn sein ? Kommt das aus den Boxen oder ist in der Küche das Geschirregal zusammengebrochen ? “Leider” kam es tatsächlich aus den Boxen, und was da rauskam waren Klänge aus dem neuesten Werk des englischen Duos ZONE. Und jetzt darüber auch noch eine Rezension schreiben ? äußerst schwieriges Unterfangen, da ich Schwierigkeiten habe, “Alien Nature” überhaupt erstmal als “Musik” entsprechend meines persönlichen Standpunktes zu betrachten. Dies liegt vor allem daran, das ZONE sich einer recht dubiosen Mischung aus Avantgarde, Ambient und Elektronik verschrieben haben, die man letztendlich unter “Experimental” als Genre zusammenfassen könnte. So fliegen einem permanent teils verwirrende Soundkollagen und Klangfragmente um die Ohren, die mich schon noch wenigen Minuten an den Rande eines Nervenzusammenbruchs gebracht haben. Auch wenn im weiteren Verlauf auch “chillige” Passagen mit Klavieruntermalung die Situation etwas angenehmer gestalten, frage mich in solch Situationen ernsthaft, wie Menschen solch eine “Musik” über eine Dauer von fast einer Stunde ertragen können. Manch einer soll dabei sogar entspannen können – nunja, jedem das Seine. Die insgesamt 12 Songs sind überwiegend instrumental gehalten, nur sehr selten ertönt eine menschliche Stimme zwischen den Klangbildern. Und was bleibt als Fazit ? Wer noch nie etwas mit dieser Form musikalischen Ausdrucks anfangen konnte, wird es auch nach “Alien Nature” nicht tun. Am ehesten dürften eventuell noch Anhänger von Soundtüftlern wie Tangerine Dream etwas mit ZONE anfangen und mit Hilfe von “Alien Nature” in ihre ganz eigenen, für mich fremde Welten, eintauchen können … viel Spass dabei.

Andreas Romer
elektrauma.de
16th Sept 2005

Wenn man sich die Jungs aus Swansea mal anschaut, erinnern sie eher an Buchhalter. Sie sind etwas dicklich, unscheinbar und nicht im Gegensatz zu den vielen durchgestylten Musikerkollegen sehen sie völlig natürlich aus. Dagegen ist das, was sie machen wirklich extravagant. Zone haben sich Avantgarde auf ihre Fahnen geschrieben. Auf „Alien Nature“ geht es sehr experimentell zu. Das schon seit 1988 existierende Duo versteht sich nicht als Clubmusiklieferant, sondern fordert die Menschen auf, sich bewusst mit ihrer Musik auseinander zusetzen. Ihre Melodien sind elegisch, Rhythmen sind sehr selten zu hören, der Blick auf verschachtelte und gleichzeitig auch grazile Klangbilder macht Zone aus. Und was sie da geschaffen haben, ist auch sehr hörenswert, auch wenn es den heutigen Gepflogenheiten nicht mehr entspricht. Das angenehme aber daran ist, dass die meisten Songs sich im Bereich von drei bis vier Minuten aufhalten und somit recht knackig sind. „Enchanted Domain“ steht im Mittelpunkt, da diese wunderbaren Klaviermelodien das Gehör umschmeicheln. „Always the Same“ hat fast schon Hörspielqualität mit den verschachtelten Gesprächsparts. „Attacking The Heart“ ist vielleicht das extrovertierteste Lied auf dieser CD. Und dann gibt es natürlich auch noch den Neun Minuten Epos „Chinese Whispers“. Schade, dass solche Bands so wenig Gehör finden. Wären sie vor 30 Jahren aufgetreten, man hätte Zone bestimmt in einem Zug mit Brian Eno, Can oder Tangerine Dream genannt.

Review rating: 4.5 out of 6

Federico Tozzi
kronic.it
5th Sept 2005

L’anima del mondo che non conosciamo

Zone è il progetto di Chris Brandrick e Andrew Cadmore, a sua volta boss della Potentia, label per cui incidono, e ‘Alien Nature’ è il loro nuovo lavoro per ora stampato con una tiratura di sole 500 copie. Il suono è quello di una elettronica minimale e sperimentale, a tratti quasi dadaista, ‘The Cabinet’. Praticamente non cantato, l’unico brano con una voce che più che tutto parla è ‘Always The Same’, ‘Alien Nature’ si espande su di uno stile che, pur restando sempre minimale e vicino a strutture ambientali, riesce in ogni brano a creare un percorso abbordabile e convincente.

La varietà dei suoni, che vanno dalla minimal trance di ‘He Came Out To Me’ all’etno trance di ‘Chinese Whispers’ per intervallarsi con momenti sinfonici, ‘Zero Point’ o ‘Enchanted Domain’, e strutture ambientali, ‘Duchamp’s Cycle’, rendono l’album decisamente fruibile confermando come si possa realizzare musica di ricerca senza dover per forza ergere un muro tra gli autori e gli ascoltatori. Quello che per ora manca agli Zone è per paradosso la capacità di creare uno stile loro che per ora appare ancora un incrocio di svariate influenze e che rende in definitiva ‘Alien Nature’ certamente un buon album ma non incisivo come avrebbe potuto essere. (5/9/05)

Review rating: 3.5 out of 5

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