Passing Through The Wall



by J.C. van Beekum USER (20 Reviews)
June 23rd, 2020 | 5 replies

Release Date: 2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An experimental math-rock tour-de-force!

Released on the infamous Cuneiform label, an institution renowned for championing some of the most challenging and idiosyncratic underground music, comes the third release from experimental math-rock outfit Zevious, a three piece comprised of highly dextrous academically trained musicians who started out as more ‘run-of-the-mill’ jazzbos, before switching up their repertoire in order to craft a new sort of aesthetic: a style of experimental math-rock that seemingly integrates elements of avant-garde jazz, modern classical music, avant-garde progressive rock, post rock, progressive metal and funk. This oddly-comprised musical aggregate perhaps comes across not so unfamiliar to drummer and undisputed all-star of Passing Through The Wall, percussionist Jeff Eber, whose mind-bending drum work will be all too familiar for those who have ever listened to the experimental ‘math-metal’ of his other musical project: Dysrhythmia. His cousin Mike Eber’s guitar playing is equally notable for its unabashed strangeness and the same can be said for Johnny DeBlasse gut-punching bass lines. These three have an apparent penchant for crafting conceptually focussed albums, something they succeed excellently on Passing Through The Wall, regardless of their entirely instrumental musical approach. As guitarist Mike Eber elaborates: “Every piece that we write, we’re trying to explore a particular concept, and on this album we really tried to play with layered time. So at some point or throughout entire tracks, we’re actually playing in three time signatures at once—I might be in one, Johnny’s in another, Jeff is playing both and then on top of that, another one." A spicy musical template to say the least.

In fact, that description is an excellent starting point for anyone daring enough to make an honest attempt at describing the musical madness that is present on this record. Similarly to other experimental math-rock outfits in this style such as Yowie or Hyrrokkin, does Zevious expressly deviate from musical convention, even in relation to the very genre they are operating within. Zevious compositions are seemingly fluid, unstructured yet simultaneously meticulously arranged slabs of sonic madness, constituted by aggressively performed cycles of polyrhythmic percussion, atop of which the listener is treated with atypical guitar work characterised by screeching, oddly-construed, octave dispersed melodies, flurries of abrasive atonality and dissonance apace with rumbling, syncopated bass lines. The cyclical repetitiveness of the music is saved from sterility both by its immense complexity, preventing the listener from easily anchoring the music’s linear progressions and an exceedingly subtle use of dynamics which facilitate sonic permutations that simultaneously propel songs forward without ripping the listener from the trance-induced state the cyclical waves of sonic incomprehensiveness impose upon them. Often, these subtle musical alterations ultimately push the music towards moments of absolute pandemonium: when the cohesive three piece each enters into separate metric dimensions resulting in a series of magnificent polymetric cacophonies that are sure to be as overwhelming as they are satisfying.

Every track is an indubitable testament to this group’s unerring cohesion and to their astounding musical abilities, as they traverse every musical landscape on Passing Through the Wall with true elegance and fluidity. Jeff Eber seems to possess the magical ability to configure his limbs in such a manner as to lay down streams of alchemic percussion that seemingly require one to split their consciousness into multiple fragments to fully decipher. His ability to integrate funky syncopation into his swirling polymetric antics, elevates his drumming on this record to an hitherto unknown level of maddening groovyness. This aspect of the record is only amplified by DeBlasse’s massive bass lines which rumble underneath the spiralling waves of polyrhythmic percussive flurries with utmost precision. Mike Eber’s abrasive guitar work also grants this record an aggressiveness that sometimes pushes them music into noise rock and perhaps even metal territory, especially during the album’s aforementioned moments of vociferous, cacophonous musical capstone.

All of this is itself aided by a truly admirable production conducted by the one and only Colin Marston (Behold… The Arctopus, Gorguts). The man is without a doubt the perfect person for the job and has ample experience with producing music as idiosyncratic and off the wall (see what I did there?) as the material contained on Passing Through The Wall. The drums on this record sound gargantuan, hard-hitting and incisive. Special compliments must be ascribed to the snare sound which is excellently snappy and brisk. The guitar has a wonderfully pristine and clear sound which helps extol the surgical precision with which Mike Eber lays down his unconventional melodic phrases. DeBlasse’s rumbling metallic bass sound is perfectly accommodated by Marston’s production: even when DeBlasse bass line’s merely constitute the record’s low end, his bass lines still manage to penetrate the layers of polymetric madness and make their presence known. Not to mention the actual bass sound itself which, if I were to formulate it in a blunt manner: sounds absolutely massive. Take all of this into account and one can surely assert that Zevious’s Passing Through The Wall is an experimental math-rock tour-de-force.

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user ratings (6)

Comments:Add a Comment 
June 23rd 2020


Album Rating: 4.5

Hello potential visitor:

- Any constructive feedback is always appreciated;

- Procure/stream this record: https://cuneiformrecords.bandcamp.com/album/passing-through-the-wall

June 24th 2020


Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review. Downloaded this album from amazon.de, my first of this band. Sounds promising.

June 24th 2020


Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for the appreciation. It's a difficult one to get into, but once you acquire a taste for it, this record will hypnotise you.

July 8th 2020


Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah and I really like the production and the sound of the instruments on this album. I always love it when bass guitar and drums get a really important and prominent role on an album like this.

I'm really thankful I got this album for 10 euro only from amazon.de. Good or great albums are worth much more because they can stay with me for the rest of my life.

This album even made it on my most recent list, my top 101 albums for summer depression, it's on rank 29!!

I wish the band members could see my list.

July 28th 2020


Album Rating: 4.5

@y87arrow: "Good or great albums are worth much more because they can stay with me for the rest of my life." As an avid collector of music I absolutely concur with this statement. Bass and drums sound absolutely fantastic on this record.

"my top 101 albums for summer depression, it's on rank 29!!". Honestly, that a pretty great idea for a music ranking right now. Cheers.

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