Z’EV, (1951-2017) he will always be worth looking into. Z’EV, a founder of what we now can call the Industrial Art Movement. You’re probably not exactly dreaming of dragging some junk stuff onto a stage or into a radio station in order to play music– but I am sure that I have wanted to. I wanted to drag in to Crit. Class last month the front grill of an old, junk truck. Z’EV, he seems the intermedial percussionist, standing between visual/sonic poetry and theatrical sound-art; from music to software to junk, Z’EV owned those moments. He passed away last week and, so, here is my tribute to him. He brings to my mind industrialism and primitivism, yet his inspiration to me is recent. He seems to ask us if it really a step forward or is it a step backwards to either express music in modern ways with software or just the opposite, with junk. Z’EV, he used both to do physical music, visual music, often alone on a stage. In this sense it is self taught, raw, perhaps even a depiction of some sort of esoteric scheme thinking as being the point. Most of education reinforces on the idea of staying between the lines– obedience. Z’EV gave us enchantment in an age now when enchantment seems to be very much headed towards extinction.
“His instruments were collections of objects … strung together with ropes and swung at varying speeds and directions to produce a fairly astonishing range of pitches and timbres. Z’EV is interesting for the close correlation of visual and musical aspects, since the physical vibrations of the objects you see are the same as those picked up by the ears as sound. Since the rhythms of the work are dictated by the performer’s every and any movement, an inevitable integrity unifies the act.”
“The birth of ‘industrial’ music was a response to an age [in which] the access and control of information were becoming the primary tools of power (citation: The Secret History of Rock). At its birth, the genre of industrial music was different from any other music, with themes (that) tear apart preconceptions about the necessary rules of musical form supports the suggestion that industrial music… and the artists themselves made these goals explicit… drawing connections to social changes they wished to argue for through their music.”
Whether with “noise music” or an ambient-junk aesthetic, it’s so interesting most musicians will align themselves in one way or another. Z’EV aligned himself with nonalignment. He seemed to look at supposedly-important rules as sort of enemy. And where there those rules now? There is power: his individual power. His enchantment was nurtured by just being himself and he did not want to be labeled “experimental”. I see in all this as a breaking away from “factory thinking”. This is philosophical in nature. Sometimes one feels, I hope, like calling more attention to breaking all rules by playing junk. I tip my hat to Z’EV.