After debuting in 1999 with the album Bromio, the ZU trio (Luca Mai, sax, Massimo Pupillo, basso e Jacopo Battaglia, batteria), born from the rubble of Gronge, have stepped up their musical activities with a seemingly unending series of concerts around the world (often in the company of bands such as The Ruins, Half Japanese, Nomeansno, The Ex, Otomo Yoshihide Quintet, The Vandermark 5) which as well as helping the group to mature and hone their playing to white-hot intensity have enabled ZU to gain a well-deserved international reputation
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Equally important for this band who have won the stamp of approval - revalidated on repeated occasions - from none other than John Zorn, has been their encounter with US guitarist and improvisation maestro EUGENE CHADBOURNE, who aside from playing live with ZU sat at the controls on the album The Zu side of the Chadbourne (Newtone Records – fy 7018), an interesting and highly inventive record that can best be described as a head-on collision made in heaven between avant-garde jazz and noise-rock.
Zu’s sound has always been distinguished by its nervy, hair-trigger intrigue and the band’s unstoppable verve is confirmed yet again on Motorhellington a kind of buzz-saw ride through the annals of alternative music that jolts new life into an eclectic array of loose canon ‘classics’ running from The Robots to Sex Machine to Jobim’s Corcovado to Motorhead’s Sacrifice by way of Mingus’s Boogie Stop Shuffle.
Naturally the Zu approach isn’t just some by the numbers retread. The Zu approach is to butt-kick familiar, well-loved material into whatever amazing new shapes they feel like while maintaining some semblance of its original appeal, all with the salutary dose of irony that is an essential strand of the group’s DNA. And the changes they work go way deeper than the body paint.