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Zombie Zombie/Charles Hayward (live at Baba Yaga’s Hut)

Zombie Zombie Baba Yaga's Hut, September 2014Electrowerkz, London 25 September 2014

I had not been to see anything at Electrowerkz for a very long time; in fact so long, I initially forgot where it was, and so was surprised that the place had changed very little over the years. One thing that has improved though was the sound in the venue, and both acts tonight have a wonderful clear sound that penetrates deep into the audience.

By the time I arrive, Charles Hayward is just taking to the stage. He sits sentinel behind his drum kit and begins to play a series of complex rhythms over a backing tape. Sometimes his drumming is subtle and reminds me of Bill Bruford with its light, almost jazz touch; at other points he clatters

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Zombie Zombie – Loubia Hamra OST

Versatile

Zombie Zombie – Loubia Hamra OSTFor my first few listens of Zombie Zombie‘s soundtrack to Narimane Mari‘s film Loubia Hamra, I very deliberately didn’t make any attempt to find what the film was about, so I could do an experiment with myself and see what images the album brought to mind. Turns out it’s either a stunningly inappropriate soundtrack (which I doubt, somehow) or I’m just stunningly bad at judging films by their soundtrack, as it’s actually about children during the Algerian War of Independence, and not, as I had suspected, about either robots or beer, or possibly robots drinking beer. Perhaps I’m bringing too much baggage to this.

Suffice it to say it’s a bit of a departure for Zombie Zombie — well, to an extent, in

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Zombie Zombie (live at Birthdays)

Etienne Jaumet of Zombie Zombie live at Birthdays September 2013London 18 September 2013

Zombie Zombie is an enigma. They are neither straight ahead progressive rock like near-namesake Zombi, nor either are they jazz or even space disco, but somehow an odd amalgamation of all three. Yes, they are a synth- and percussion-based band, but there is so much more in there. This was reflected in the audience that turned up tonight; there were prog rockers, synth nerds, someone wearing a Jean Michel Jarre t-shirt and yes, some hipsters as well.

For this tour (as with the last one as well) drummer Cosmic Neman is augmented by a second drummer to add extra power to the percussion and push the songs forward with more force. Etienne Jaumet stands behind

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Zombie Zombie/The Oscillation (live at The Lexington)

The Lexington, London 24 October 2012

The weirdest thing, it would seem, about tonight’s opening act The Oscillation, is that they didn’t go the whole hog and add an extra “e” to that pronoun. Because this is a band who take their psychedelia seriously. Possibly a little too seriously, but if you’re a psych band then you can’t really be blamed for that. They start straight into a pleasingly massive swirl of echo, effects and coloured oils, and from then on the overall effect is like a package tour of psychedelia itself.

There are many enjoyable stretches relaxing by the Hawkwind pool, and a brief trip to see the ruins of Syd-era Floyd (fortunately they avoid the overpriced and somewhat tacky tourist traps of post-Syd

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Zombie Zombie – Rituels D’un Nouveau Monde

Versatile

OK, where do I begin? Well, for starters you are getting a different Zombie Zombie than was showcased on 2007’s A Land For Renegades and 2010’s …[post=zombie-zombie-play-john-carpenter text=”Plays John Carpenter”]. This time the set up seems more like a (dare I say it) concept album and although the band bring all their arsenal of sounds from their previous albums, this has a touch more progressive rock going on. But this heightens the Zombie Zombie sound rather than diminishes it and this synthesis of musical styles has made an amazingly strong album full of mind-expanding music.

“The Wisdom of the Stones” starts with a wonderful Moog-type bass sound and immediately Cosmic Neman’s drums pick up the beat as a sequencer kicks in.

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Zombie Zombie (live at Les Passagers du Zinc)

Les Passagers du Zinc, Avignon 6 October 2012

Zombie Zombie are touring their latest album, Rituels d’un Nouveau Monde, and their stop at the well-hidden Passagers du Zinc – it lives in a strip mall outside the walls of the old city, next to a Norma discount supermarket, far away the tourist quarters of town, psychologically if not geographically – is a welcome breath of excitement in a town more famous to the outside world for its epic theatrical festival and a charming song about a collapsed old bridge.

Tonight, the city’s underground have turned out, if not en masse, then in respectable numbers at least, to catch France’s contribution to the burgeoning crop of analogue synth and drum outfits. Unlike, say, Temperatures or K-X-P, Zombie Zombie eschew

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Zombie Zombie/Solina Hi-Fi/Dave I.D. (live at Corsica Studios)

Corsica Studios, London 31 October 2010

Its Samhain, the time to dress as ghosts and devils, a time to watch reruns of old Boris Karloff films and listen to wind howling over bleak moors. However, I am doing none of these things. I’m at Elephant and Castle (ok, not too dissimilar to a bleak moor) about to see two Frenchmen [post=zombie-zombie-play-john-carpenter text=”play the back catalogue of 80s horror auteur John Carpenter“].

I was already a fan of Zombie Zombie’s work. Their album A Land For Renegades, a melting pot of 70s Goblin, Gallic disco and dark industrial oddness, is a must for anyone interested in modern electronica. The unfortunate thing is the name clash with Canada’s Zombi, another duo based around keyboards and drums that also mines similar progressive rock territory – which seems to baffle record shop owners when you try and ask for their records.

Corsica is bustling

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Zombie Zombie – Play John Carpenter

Versatile

Zombie Zombie Plays John CarpenterGiven a penchant for vintage analogue synthesis, Goblin and motorik drumming, and having named themselves after a Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer game, it is not only appropriate, but almost de rigueur, that Zombie Zombie should find themselves tackling the oeuvre of a key progenitor of electronic cinema soundtracks. John Carpenter‘s themes and incidental music for the groundbreaking low-budget and high-thrills genre movies was pioneering, and hugely influential on a generation of teenagers who probably came into contact with the form for the first time within the sparse soundscapes of the sort he composed to accompany his own distinct brand of muscular action, SF and horror films.

Certainly as far as the mainstream of US horror and science fiction films went in the late seventies and eighties, no-one was really foregrounding synth pulsations

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