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Album Review

Although the String Cheese Incident are categorized as a jam band, they don't jam enough to satisfy their drummer, Michael Travis, who also leads Zilla, a trio featuring hammered dulcimer player Jamie Janover and guitarist/bassist Aaron Holstein, which might be called a "real" jam band in the sense that all they do is jam — there are no songs, per se, and not even any preplanned structure when the bandmembers pick up their many instruments. After six live albums, the double-CD all iZ (employing a quirky capitalization to emphasize that the title is "Zilla" spelled backwards) is a debut studio album, the product of an exhaustive two-day, 16-hour spell in a recording studio, from which nearly two hours have been culled. Even though the members of Zilla are making it all up as they go along, the music is not formless. In fact, if there is a constant, it is in the rhythms, which often move at a fast clip, and over which various riffs are played. Janover's dulcimer (he also plays electric kalimba) may be the closest thing to a lead instrument, but there are also plenty of electronic blips and bloops, and the percussion sounds draw upon many exotic instruments, lending a world music impression, as the styles jump from South America to Asia to Africa. If the improvisational nature of the music doesn't do any harm to its groove, however, the lack of any planning does affect musical development. The 13 excerpts from the group's ongoing composition, ranging in length from two to 19 minutes, are more about beats and patterns than about beginnings, middles, and ends. By its very nature, Zilla's music is art for the present tense, which also means that, when it's over, there isn't much to retain.

Customer Reviews

Anony does not know what he is talking about

Go see Zilla live and then tell me you can do what they do on a keyboard you buy at Target. This band is sick and keep getting better each time I see them live.


This is where untying the not ended.....then Zilla was born.

Everything you could ask for!!!!

If your into jam bands, but have started to get into the electro scene, this band is where its at. No only do they jam with talent rivaling many other great bands, but they fluently mix electronics into their Jamdulcitronic sound as Janover uses a wide assortment of indian instruments. This puts their sound a bit over the edge, unrivaled by another force. What else could you ask for? It took me a couple of months to really get into, and fully appreciate this band. If you have a hard time at first with the beginning of the album check out Spokes, Cakes & Pies, and Secret Victor, you should begin to appreciate the rest, although the first four songs seem to encompass the ultimate beauty of Zilla. The middle of this album is filled with ear candy and an amazing drum solo to boot. If you buy this album and put it off for a while after listening to it a few times, make sure you come back to it again and again, because you'll begin to notice and understand the complexity of they noise they are producing. Their other albums ZILLA ZILLA and Egg display Zilla's live sound at a fuller extent, but this album should be placed along the lines with other albums such as Anthem of the Sun. Enjoy!!!


Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '70s, '00s

Colorado-based Zilla is an instrumental rock group with a heavy emphasis on improvisation featuring Michael Travis of the String Cheese Incident (drums, percussion, keyboards, mallet Kat); Jamie Janover (hammered dulcimer, mini-kit, percussion, sampler, electric kalimba, sitar), who formerly played with Travis in the band Zuvuya; and Aaron Holstein (guitar, bass, sampler, keyboards), former guitarist with Boogie Shoes and Vibe Squad. (When it was founded, the band also included keyboardist Steve...
Full Bio
all iZ, Zilla
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