Too Many Zooz
Hollagraphik is available at:
26th January, 2016
New York, U.S.A.
THROWING a wrench into the blog writing machine was never an option…
until my mind sort of froze today. Unsure what to review, I remembered a great sound I came across: That which emanated from New York’s Brass-House masters, Too Many Zooz. Having caught these guys on YouTube- performing at New York City Subway where they regularly play their music- it seemed only apt to feature the boys. Before I come to them, it gives me the chance to explore some new themes: The music and artists of New York; Brass-House as a genre- looking at how some musicians are taking a unique approach to music-making/recognition. When you want to explore the greatest sounds music has to offer- that are fascinating and stray away from the norm.- then you cannot go too far wrong looking at the major cities. Most people have assumptions areas like London, Los Angeles and New York are fairly predictable: You have bands and solo artists of varying sounds; nothing too unexpected to be honest. The trouble is, the press- and the acts they assess/highlight- are just scratching the surface. In terms of the most unique music, you have to dig a lot deeper. Some of the most spectacular artists you will find are in the underground: Quite literally when you think about New York’s Too Many Zooz. The U.S. is a musical landscape us here (around the U.K.) hardly get to hear past mainstream press. Unless you have a finger across all the most cutting-edge blogs around- mine hardly ranks alongside them- it is hard to see what America is producing at the moment. Last year, I got to discover some great bands coming out of Los Angeles: The city is always showcasing so many rich and colourful musicians. A vibrant and fertile music hub: It is an area of the globe that will continue to astonish this year. Whilst California has few limits and barriers- the sheer breadth of music there is stunning- New York is even more astounding. While the bands are about equal to Los Angeles’ best: It is the less-than-traditional/solo acts that surpass their West Coast peers. New York’s solo artists have that extra level of grit and passion: I am not sure what it is; they just have a little bit more magic and passion to their sounds. Having never been to either New York or Los Angeles- Orlando remains my only contact with the U.S.- I am gleaming and forming impressions based on my previous reviews. New York is a humongous city that is seeing thousands of musicians try to make their way to public consciousness. While it is near-impossible getting acclaim and long-term recognition among the mainstream stations and media; that is not to say it will not happen eventually. Amidst the sheer wave of hungry bands, there are a few that are shouldering above their contemporaries. Exocomet have been touted by Gigwise as one of the bands to watch closely. Mixing The Velvet Underground with Bauhaus- how often have those two been spliced? – that forms an original and genuinely pleasing sound. Elsewhere, High Waisted- having recorded some of their music in a haunted house whilst out of it on acid- are a lo-fi, Surf-Rock band that record on reel-to-reel and have a ‘60s vibe to their aesthetic.
Reputante are a Brooklyn band that are a modernised version of Joy Division- in no small part due to their lead’s deep and sonorous voice- and are causing excitement. Throw in (among hundreds) Jack + Eliza and there is variation and plenty of potential to be unearthed. That is all well and good- those acts have commercial appeal and are hugely impressive- yet I think we can go a little bit further. Take a trip away from the studios and basement-recorded sounds of New York and you will find something even better. Too Many Zooz may play and seduce the New York Subway crowds: They are a trio that is more than a novelty act for the YouTube generation. It is not often I get to talk about Brass-House- a genre fusion that you wouldn’t think would work- but it has got me very excited. In Britain we had something (or still do) called Acid-Brass music: The mingling of traditional Acid and Brass elements, it is a strange and wonderful chemical blend. Too Many Zooz throws away the vocals and studio trickery and seduce with their staggering musicianship. Having first encountered these guys via YouTube- a short clip of them entertaining the morning commuters- I could not believe what was coming through. A cartoonish blend of vivid sounds and strange ideas: The sounds emitting from their instruments are psychotropic and mind-blowing; incredible vivid and insanely catchy. It is impossible to be within a 100-mile radius of Too Many Zooz and not find your feet involuntarily- and with no regard for dignity and gravity- flailing and dancing to the strange-world symphonies of the New York clan. Designed to bring sunshine, colour and amazement to the world- few bands have such a universal and thoughtful approach- they have amassed a huge legion of fans. I have never witnessed a group like Too Many Zooz. In the U.K., we do not really have an equivalent, so it is hard to see where their competition lies. Brass-House is a sub-genre that should inspire other acts to follow suit. Maybe New York has quite a few sound-alike bands- again, the limitations of the media- but I’d like to think Too Many Zoozs are in a class of their own. When it comes to authority, genius and variety: There are no other acts that get close to matching them. In sheer musical terms- they amaze without vocals and any other band member- the boys shift ideas and tones from song-to-song. Hollagraphik is a new song I was keen to investigate as it is the here-and-now of where they are. An exploration into the terrifying, beautiful and mesmeric, it is a song that is extremely hard to define and pin down- just as well I choose it, right!? As I type this- listening to Absolute Radio online- Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a-Changing and I could not imagine a group more different: Could you draw a line between Dylan and Too Many Zoozs? Whilst a young Dylan enthralled Greenwich Village- his stomping ground when he arrived in the city in ’61- our ‘Zooz boys have their milieu and distinct gig venue. As this year kicks off, few U.K. sources will be looking at Too Many Zooz: It is a shame, because the three-piece are amazing musicians that deserve huge respect.
If you happen to be new to Too Many Zooz, you will want to hear where they have come from. F Note was released a couple of years ago and was one of the first E.P.s from the trio. Mixing the experimental Jazz sounds of Mile Davis, Charles Mingus and John Coltrane: Their five-track collection blends in the limitless sway and recklessness of House music. Bonding romance and texture with drugged-out, drunken abandon and you have a collection that saw them stand aside from their contemporaries. Noda is perhaps the finest cut from the E.P.: A circus procession that asks you to stamp your feet and march to the rhythm of the drums. A call-to-arms and clarion call: A song that provokes all manner of images and dream sequences.
The Fanimals E.P. was released after (F Note) and shows a continuation of that musicianship and quality. If anything- marking an evolution between the recordings- the New York group sound even more freewheelin’, kinetic and ambitious. Perhaps the interim performances- honing their craft and gauging crowd reaction- ensured the E.P. brimmed with quality and nuance. The production values and musical themes do not stray too far from F Note’s gauntlet. What you get are additional passions and new genres ideas. Salsa, Bossa Nova and Latin ideas are tossed into the melting point. Limbo is a song that is much more danceable and intoxicating than anything they had recorded previously. A veritable orgy of dark satin and late-night coming-together: There is something sexual and positively- charged about the song. House of the Glass Red I is a standout that really takes you in House music. Reminding me of the anthems of the genre’s heyday: The boys simulate that sound through their instruments and make the listener cast their mind back to when music had that limitless potential. Bounding beats and strange vibrations- the sound of a cricket playing a digeridoo- you have a song that inflames the senses and stands as the band’s most electrifying moment (up to that point). Having quite a defined and specialised sound; it is hard for the boys to take huge leaps- without compromising their uniqueness and core.
Holographik has that hard-to-achieve blend of accessible and experimental. Perhaps not as experimental as Fanimals E.P. but not as accessible as F Note: Here is a song that unites the trio’s previous work and updates their music for 2016. The guys show evolution and development in addition to familiarity and consistency. Their existing fans will love what they hear across the track- it is has been online for a while but available for digital download at the moment- and enjoy the fresh ideas and themes explored. I know a new album is planned for 2016: It will be the first opportunity for the boys to break away from E.P.s and produce something longer and more in-depth. I am not sure whether existing songs will feature across the album- or if it will be only new songs- but I am confident the resultant record will be immense. Too Many Zooz are an act that defy quality expectations and have never missed a step. If their album- the campaign they are launching right now- does not reach its target it will be a sad thing for music. Since their earliest days, there have been no limits and boundaries to their sound. An act that immerses the listener and takes them somewhere mystical: This year is going to be a productive and exciting one for the New York boys.
Having obsessed- perhaps ‘familiarised’ is a more apt word- my ears to the music of Too Many Zooz, I was half-expecting something that harked back to their past days. I loved the trio’s early E.P.s and thought- as the song was recorded a little while ago- Hollagraphik is a fresh track on the scene that shows where the boys are now. If anything, the song shows progressiveness and a new stage for Too Many Zooz. Pulsing electronics open the track and show a slight departure for the group. Many would expect a teasing beat or slow-building brass coda to open things: Here we get something direct that sounds like an Electronica/Acid track. That percussive stamp plays in the background- the hollow taps and heartbeat slams- creating something strangely focused and natural. After that initial surprise- and how authoritatively Too Many Zooz are right from the get-go-their more ‘traditional’ blends come to roost. Those tip-toeing and tripping horns swagger in and add colour to the dark carnivore elements. At this stage, I began to wonder what inspired the song- and where that title stems from- so your mind will race and conspire. If you listen to Too Many Zooz, you do not have vocals and lyrics to shed life: They are essentially like a Jazz act whereby the music alone does the speaking. For that reason, it is quite a different challenge reviewing them: You have to gain impressions from the music and what it is trying to say. Instantly, you hear the confidence and tight-knitted bond Too Many Zooz share. The clear and stunning production values make the instruments crisp and alive- without making them too polished and commercial. Having released songs like Spocktopus and 20/20 this month, it seems 2016 is shaping to be a very productive one for the trio. Hollagraphik has so many ideas and strands to it; you need multiple listens just to get to the bottom of it. As a Jazz fan- and a follower of Miles Davis’ finest creations- you get elements of Kind of Blue and Birth of the Cool blending together. The former’s lush and thought-provoking introspectiveness sits with the latter’s Bee-Bop cigarette-smoking suaveness. What the New York trio do is evoke memories of revolutionary ‘50s Jazz and something almost Disney-esque. The elephantic and trumpeting sound- that has Hip-Hop/Rap swagger- melts with a cartoon-like fantastical phantasmagoria that takes the breath away. Whilst constrained and disciplined- at this stage anyway- there are so many elements and layers built into the music. Being Too Many Zooz, the energy levels never drop and you find yourself moving your head: Helpless to resist the alluring charm and dance of Hollagraphik. That warping and punctuated brass-and-electronic sound is joined by dizzying brass- the evocative animated sound- and something distinctly Miles Davis-esque. If anything, Sketches of Spain acts as a bigger influence (than Birth of the Cool and Kind of Blue). Like Sketches of Spain, here you have something that brims with lyricism and gracefulness. That album boasted transcending adagios and something akin to modern art. Vibrant and filled with life- the timbres, tonalities and harmonic structures seems new to Jazz in 1960- you can see parallels within Hollagraphik. A stunning narrative that has romanticism and exceptional command of the instruments: I was amazed by how shades of Saeta, Solea and Will o’ the Wisp– from Sketches of Spain– blend into a modern spectrum of Subway grit and street-level electioneering. Unsure as to the true inspiration for the song, you are taken on a weird voyage of the New York streets. Colourful and head-spinning- you struggle to comprehend the possibilities and magnitude of the sound- you try to capture as much as possible.
The sound of 21st century music mixes with ‘60s Jazz in an orgy of the demented. Romance and passion sit with the (electronic) sound of a barking dog. A wide-eyed chatter joins wordless vocals- almost acting as characters within the song’s storyline- to give the track some danger and streetlight uncertainty. Snaking and slippery trumpet lines slither alongside blood-rush electronics: A modal groove-cum-cutting razor that evokes a myriad amount of dreams and insights. The chaos, fog and paradoxical nature of the compositional has another influence: Milles Davis’ Bitches Brew. I hate to bring up Davis so often- it is apropos here- but that experimental nature can be compared to the Jazz godfather. Joining Jazz-Rock together with Brass-House and Electronica would be ridiculous in lesser hands. It is testament to Too Many Zooz’s shared talent- and the telekinetic nature of their performances- that everything comes together so well. Those shuddering and spectral judders- that cut through the atmosphere like a chainsaw-wielding murder- are calmed by brass which becomes fevered towards the conclusion. Breathless and evading the law, the brass becomes frantic and terrified: It tees the song up to deliver a confident and cool-as-crap conclusion. At this point, I get evocations of ‘90s Acid and the club songs of the time. Whilst there is modernity and 2016 in the song- a song that could translate to the clubs of New York- it is the elements of the past that come to the foreground. In addition to Miles Davis- the comingling of his accessible and experimental highs- you have insights into 1990s glory. Whilst some may perceive Hollagraphik may be interpreted as a voyage into an addled and troubled mind- the song has a very emotional and haunted sound- there is such a busy and itinerant sound to the song. In my mind- every listener will have their own interpretation- I look at the nighttime sounds and smells of New York. I saw a lone character- perhaps worst for wear after a heavy night- seduced and suffocated by the neon lights and loneliness of the streets. Maybe something strange lurks in the shadows: A hat-wearing killer that is stalking the hero as he tries to evade his fate. By the closing stages- the most vivid and urgent moment of the song- all the musical elements and genres pollinate into an explosion of near-apocalyptic possibilities.
It is hard to know where to begin with Too Many Zooz with regards to their qualities and genius. Having been unfamiliar with them until last year, I have been making up for lost time. Against a music scene that has too much rigidity: The New York trio are a hurricane of fresh air that pack an enormous amount of mystery, drama, dance and multifariousness. Hollagraphik is one of the most arresting and immediate songs the lads have ever crafted. Perhaps their most diverse, atmospheric and accomplished songs: You will not believe how stunning the song is upon first listen. Given further investigation, various shades and ideas come to the fore. A truly nuanced and incredible statement: If this is the way the trio are going to develop in 2016, I sorely hope their album gets funded. It is no faint praise comparing Too Many Zooz to Miles Davis: One of the most iconic musicians in all of history. The New York trio is renowned for their beyond-the-point-of-believability performances and wondrous connection. Having seen clips playing across New York train stations- reveling in the freedom of their surroundings and vibes from commuters- many would wonder whether they would sound as pure and natural in the studio. Never loading their sound with shiny gloss and trickery: You have the replication of their live performances against the control and discipline of a studio setting. Sounding live and bare- but with enough shine to ensure there is that additional quality- the boys would not have been able to make this track work if they were playing in the underground. Bringing all those ideas, instruments and sound effects together required a studio setting: For that reason, Hollagraphik is one of their most essential and impressive unveilings. It will be fascinating to see how the song is performed live- whether the guys will bring singers and other musicians in- but I hope the trio comes to London. I am excited to see where this year takes New York’s master: Hollagraphik is the finest statement from a group that become more beguiling as time elapses.
If you have not made Too Many Zooz part of your life, make sure you change this. If you wanted to find bands as starting points: I guess the likes of Madness and The Specials would be close enough. That duo has a mix of brass and abandon- wrapped around Ska and Reggae sounds- that have inspired and captivated the music world. To be honest, it is quite a vague comparison because Too Many Zooz are so unique. Having digged some of the New Yorkers’ previous work- and what a spectrum and sense of spectacular they have- Hollagraphik will please existing acolytes and draw in new admirers. It is hard enough finding originality in music; let alone something that is exciting and enduring. In the U.K., I have been seeking bands that do things differently to the rest of the world. You know, something that recalls the giddy heights of the ‘90s: Music that makes you feel wistful but is genuinely forward-thinking. While it may be a hard ask, the terms of my conditions are quite open: Just rebel against the conformist and vanilla-dull restraints so many are all too happy to embrace. Perhaps the likes of me- who review music and proclaim the best and brightest- are not exempt from responsibility. I suppose we have become so familiarised with a certain musical sound- and desensitised to its predictability- when something new does come about, it takes a while for it to get true recognition. It is perhaps ironic that New York’s Too Many Zoozs are an underground act- that are making waves across the city- but am performing as far and wide as they can. Maybe Brass-House is a genre that will take a while to be exploited. A singular and impossible-to-define act, they are in the process of funding their debut album. If you go to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1013202534/too-many-zooz-needs-your-help-to-complete-their-de , make sure you donate some money to an act that deserve the chance to shine. While their $100,000 budget may seem a lot: It is the price you pay to hear music of exceptional calibre and grasp. In the meantime- and whether they will hit their target- the boys are seeing how Hollagraphik fares. The guys play Brooklyn Bowl today and a chance for New York’s finest borough- certainly when it comes to the most forward-thinking music- to be cast under the spell of Too Many Zooz. The trio has produced an impressive- and hugely consistent- body of work that deserves a lot of appreciation and sharing. Before I come to the end, it is worth revisiting those motifs of New York music, Brass-House and the diversification of sounds. America’s centre for great music- my words you understand- New York is perhaps the most essential place to find the finest acts around.
I love London to death- and the immense amount of wonderful musicians we have- but New York has an extra edge. In terms of sheer size- New York could swallow London like a Mento- there seems to be that variety and spice we are lacking. Hard to explain, New York’s five boroughs- Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens- are producing as much scintillating music as anywhere else. While Staten Island and Queens may be lesser gods when it comes to musical genius- there are some fine acts emerging here, mind- it is the likes of Brooklyn and Manhattan that are housing some truly special musicians. As Too Many Zooz prepares to enthrall Brooklyn, I am determined to spend more time seeking what New York has to offer. A mind-boggling and Herculean feat: The rewards of such passionate investigation are going to be huge. When you get past the skin-deep and easy-to-define mass of acts coming out- even New York has a lot of stereotypical and bland acts- there is so much richness and wonder to be discovered. You do not need to be a genius to know that originality is what defines a truly special act/band. I have had my fill- and my brain has been numbed by- so many samey Rock bands and bland-as-butter Pop artists that leave a rather metallic aftertaste. A man who loves a wealth of genres; the time has come to start proffering the artists that dare to be different. Too Many Zooz’s brass-cum-House cocktails have seen them gain thousands of supporters across social media. Their Subway performances are the thing of legends: Just see these boys play and you will not believe what you are seeing! The colourful and sense-altering world of Too Many Zooz is a place we all need to visit and remain. Up until this point, I had not really encountered anyone who played Brass-House. I love oldskool (forgive me using that world) House and the Acid-House artists of old. In today’s market you hardly hear many House acts- with that munch quality and endeavor- emerge: Fewer blend House elements with other genres to be fair. Matt Doe, Leo P. and King of Sludge are a brotherhood that are going to be conquering the music world soon enough. So many musicians do not take the trouble to variegate their sounds and stretch the limits of their musical ambitions. Variety being the spice of life and all, how can anyone not fall for the quirky and feet-moving bliss of Too Many Zooz? Take the opportunity to donate to their album campaign and ensure the guys have a platform to get their music out there. I wanted to review the trio to get (or try to) their brand heard in the U.K. While the guys have British support, they are still really an act with an American majority (of fans). Hollagraphik is a statement from a three-piece that have a very clear and wonderful future ahead. If you do one thing today…
DISCOVER this unstoppable musical juggernaut.
Follow Too Many Zooz