Pita & Z’ev, Vienna Rhiz, 6 December 2009

Exceptional concert of crushing noise from the reliably hardcore Peter Rehberg and his partner for the evening, American percussionist Z’ev. Aside from this brief review of an album he made a few years ago with David Jackman a.k.a. Organum, this was my first acquaintance with Z’ev, whom I was vaguely aware of as some kind of Industrial metal-basher. No metal onstage tonight, though; instead Z’ev played the V-drums, and did so with great skill and panache.

Because the V-drums don’t require a huge amount of physical exertion to play, the American was able to lay down all manner of complex and interlacing stickwork, which ended up sounding like a vast and heavy cloud of noise. Z’ev’s playing was especially notable for the way it almost-but-not-quite resolved into a steady rhythmic pulse, leaving the listener with a distinct sense of unease and discomfort.

Over on the other side of the stage, Rehberg made plenty of contributions to that sense of unease himself with the squalls of sonic violence issuing from his Macbook. Indeed, such was the totality of noise in the room that it was frequently impossible to tell whether a given sound was being generated by Rehberg or Z’ev. Not that it mattered. The two of them barely exchanged a glance at each other for the hour or so they were onstage, yet behind this apparent lack of communication lay a supremely intuitive understanding of how to ramp up the tension to monstrous levels. Possessed by a malign sense of urgency, Rehberg’s hissing drones and Z’ev’s clattering percussion are made for each other.

Organum & Z’ev: Tocsin -6 Thru +2

This disc finds sound artist David Jackman (aka Organum) collaborating with percussionist Z’ev on a collection of nine instrumental pieces. The sound sources are a grand piano and a steel instrument built by Z’ev out of materials found in a London scrapyard. Jackman and Z’ev recorded the tracks together, then mixed them separately to come up with two distinct pieces of work.

Occupying the first seven tracks of the album, Z’ev coaxes a range of scouring metallic textures from his custom-made instrument. These acoustic sounds are then subjected to sensitive electronic processing. The results are queasy and disturbing, as Z’ev sculpts and layers the generated sounds into a mire of industrial klang. There’s little variation over the course of the seven shortish tracks, save for a more energised percussive attack on “Tocsin -2.” Otherwise the combination of silvery shimmer, static interference and low end drones keeps the listener balanced perfectly between unease and restfulness.

David Jackman weighs in with two lengthier piano-based pieces, whose effect is sharper and just as disquieting as that of Z’ev’s tracks. Jackman issues gleaming, opalescent clusters of notes that disperse into needling, aggressive stabs. Z’ev’s steel instrument hovers ominously here and there, adding to the sense of foreboding that pervades this accomplished release.