Reissue Review: zxz - "zxz"

zxz - zxz
(2009 Going Native)

At some point in my early childhood - around the time I began to attend first grade, I believe - I began to experience long-term bouts of insomnia brought on by nightmares I'd experience almost nightly. The most memorable installment in this Criterion Collection of night terrors was an ongoing conflict between myself and a sentient VHS player. I'd find myself confined in a vacant living room - one with windows locked from the outside and without doors. An unmarked videocassette would protrude from the tape player's parted lips like a jutted tongue, taunting me. As if in a trance, I'd approach the appliance only for it to hastily swallow the magnetic box, its guts churning with the rumble of worn hardware. The television's screen would brighten, and as the shadows of figures materialized, I'd shield my eyes with a forearm in a panic, bathed in the tube's spectral blue light while furiously mashing the EJECT and STOP buttons, only for the cassette's sickly, detuned soundtrack to increase in volume with each press until it reached unbearable levels. I'd never muster the courage to sneak a glance at the TV's broadcast - its bass snarls and fricative synth whispers were enough to spook my young self. 

Perhaps the grainy cover art that accompanies zxz's self-titled effort on Going Native Records, speckled with incandescent bulbs and burnt-orange lens flares, is the dream world's motion picture I'd averted my eyes from all those years. Its tape-warped melodies and minimal constructions certainly do recall memories of the nightmares' soundscapes, sonorous wheezes of glassy keys that leak post-nasal drip onto aural Polaroids of the sky taken at various times of day. Instrumentally similar to Julee Cruise's contributions to the Twin Peaks soundtrack, the record is a spring-reverb comforter with barbed burrs of atonality clinging to its fuzzy surface. It's an after school Halloween special scored by Arnold Schoenberg and John Carpenter - subtly unsettling yet saturated with sadness.