TO:13 – z’ev “One Foot in the Grave”

Track list:

1-01 Z’EV Forbuki
1-02 Stefan Weisser Book Of Love Being Written As They Touched, As Is As, Instill, 9 Feathers Floating, Oomoonoon #1, Spatial Poetics, Oomoonoon #2
1-03 Stefan Weisser The Mountain Looked At The Mountain… And Slipped Away To Sea
1-04 Stefan Weisser OK, Get Rid Of That
1-05 Z’EV So
1-06 Cellar-M Bleedfat
1-07 ‘TO’ Big Wave
1-08 Stefan Weisser Sound Of Wind And Limb
1-09 Yoel Live At The ‘Fab Mab’
1-10 Rax Werx In The Compound
1-11 Z’EV Radio Station KPFK
1-12 Z’EV Shake Rattle & Roll
1-13 Z’EV First 30 Minutes
1-14 Z’EV Metal Bizondere Plastik
1-15 Z’EV Hottest Night
1-16 uns BRC
1-17 Z’EV Lust/Unlust 1-4
1-18 uns Strange Girl
1-19 Z’EV Flew Ting

1-20 Z’EV Documenta
1-21 Z’EV Light Of Metal Sounding
1-22 Z’EV Gronigen Mix
1-23 Z’EV Under The Hammer #1
2-01 Z’EV Short Wave
2-02 Z’EV Pieces
2-03 Z’EV The Erl King
2-04 Z’EV Beautiful Music
2-05 Z’EV Lightning Music
2-06 Z’EV Following In The Footsteps
2-07 Z’EV Under The Hammer #2
2-08 Z’EV Bel’s
2-09 Mother Tongue Words
2-10 Mother Tongue Conches
2-11 Z’EV Tattoo
2-12 uns Aldo’s Bar
2-13 uns Says
2-14 Magneet Bond Magneet For Organ And Bond
2-15 uns Boxes
2-16 uns Past 2 Days
2-17 uns Save The What?


“Say what you mean and say it mean” [Jim Thirwell]

As Z’EV completed a recent performance at the 38 Thayer St. loft an enthusiastic person from the audience shouted “More noise!”. “Make it yourself”, Z’EV casually responded. Z’EV draws a variety of reactions from the crowd. Some stand motionless, absorbing the sights and sounds as if in some form of meditation.

Others rocked with the rhythms and shouted cheers of encouragement and wisecracks. The mood was festive and mystical combined with the exciting threat of danger. Throughout the performance the audience was consciously aware that any accident could maim Z’EV or one of them. As we watched, a cord snapped and a large sheet of metal crashed to the floor. To date, no one has been injured during a show except for Z’EV himself. “This stuff doesn’t scratch you. It takes a chunk out of you”. Regardless of your interest in ‘tin can’ music, Z’EV has to be admired for his inventiveness in creating a primitive ceremony from scraps of a modern society. Without the need for conventional musical instruments, without electricity, without modern music theory, Z’EV is still making music. What would you do if the power went out? (Mr. B, Boston Rock, 8/80).

“I guess I’m something of a loner”, mused Z’EV, sitting at his mother’s dining-room table. “There could be other people doing this with me, but for one thing, I don’t stay in one place long enough to really develop a group”.

Performing alone, Z’EV (born Stefan Joel Weisser; Z’EV is part of his Hebrew name, meaning “wolf”) takes percussion into the realm of performance art. Z’EV employs various drums and objects that are usually made of metals like titanium, stainless steel and aluminium. “I want people to realise what can come from these metals. The more pressure that’s used in the production of a metal, the more potential is created. It’s like a spring – when the metal is hit, the potential comes back out”. Z’EV has performed in all sorts of European locales, carrying his equipment with him in large canvas mailbags. Crossing borders has sometimes been a problem. Belgian customs officials once thought he was trying to enter their country to sell his large pieces of stainless steel. Italian border men dragged him and his bags off a train. “They wanted to see all this ‘weird stuff’. Then they wanted a performance”. His train left without him. [Terry Atkinson, L.A. Times, 1/85]

What do you think are the important issues? The distinction between fine art and commercial art, and the tendency to sacrifice content for form. Not that things are becoming more formalistic, but as an analogy, ‘American’ English is the cultural currency. If you have a second-rate idea presented in first-rate English, and a first-rate European idea presented in second-rate English, the second-rate ‘American’ idea will win. The ideas of the dominant become the dominant ideas. For example, the current trend of mega-movies as just a series of special effects, and a sense of spectacle, creates a level where the appearance of what’s happening compensates for the fact that nothing is happening. A certain reality is fed back to the audience to keep them in a controlled status and away from the issues. America employs slick form to evade content. We can also discuss this from the aspect of ‘new music’. We’re talking about the struggle of form over content? It’s not a struggle because the battle is over. Who won? Form. To what are we applying this condition? Everything. [Stefan Weisser in conversation with Carl Loeffler, Artcom # 20, 1983]

When Chicago hosted the New Music America festival in 1982, Z’EV was the musician who almost came. No one doubted that he would be an exciting and colourful addition to the festival: an obsessive and violently physical percussionist with a growing underground reputation and ideas about performance that contradicted Western expectations. It was his violence that was the drawback. Legend had it that his tendency to throw large sheets of metal around the stage to produce sound posed a danger not only to himself but to the first few rows of the audience. Would you want to handle insurance coverage for a gig like that? Neither did the Museum of Contemporary Art and the City of Chicago. [Kyle Gann, Chicago Reader, 2/86]

Bang! Bang! Silver objects came down like hammers upon Maxwell’s stage as Z’EV, percussionist extraordinaire, performed his usual heavy metal compositions at the Hoboken club. Z’EV took Bill Haley’s “Shake Rattle & Roll” literally as he played his homemade instruments by rolling them across the floor, rattling them together and shaking them up and down. Z’EV proved to be a sensitive and skilled master of his instruments, creating complex rhythms and varied timbres, building to exciting climaxes and demonstrating that there is more to baking pans, used plastic containers and old metal than previously thought possible. Z’EV is a pioneer not only in music, but in ecology as well. [The Aquarian, 11/79]

In being so exemplary modern, Z’EV is as primitive a performer as possible. His instrument literally is his body, and the percussion instruments he plays with all parts of it. Z’EV is a dancer, always in perfect control of his muscular body’s movements. At least in concept, Z’EV realises many of modernist art’s ultimate goals: primitivism, improvisation, multi-media / conjunction of art forms, the artist as direct creator. Z’EV is also one hell of a drummer. [Louis Morra, East Village Eye, 11/83]

uns achieve a mesmerizing shadowy sonic replication of unconscious dream-states, formed and formless, oddly cyclical like repetitive action delirium. No clue is given as to band members; it might be just one guy, it might be the tape of the shared subconscious of the entire world. [New York Rocker, 2/81]

How much are you consciously aware of what you’re doing while you’re drumming?
The recent piece that I did that was about twelve minutes – I was consciously aware for maybe three or four of those minutes, and the rest of the time there was this level where I would have no idea what I was actually playing. Because you get a basic groove, as it were, and then you let that groove groove itself, show itself. And that’s so the actual message of it can appear – the process of pure form. In the summer of 1980 I was working with a Haitian man, and learned quite a bit from him towards understanding the Caribbean systems of voodoo drumming. In voodoo, the drum patterns are the calls – if there’s going to be an invocation of a particular spirit-energy, it’s a drum pattern that calls for that energy. So I started learning about that – I became much more linked up to that system. I’ve used it subliminally, but I haven’t really dealt with it that much overtly because it’s difficult to do, to keep the concentration. Because if you call an energy down, you have to be able to deal with it. And if you’re doing shows night after night, for example, you have to be very centred, otherwise the energy will not leave. And so I’d walk off stage and I would not be me anymore. [Interview by Vale and Andrea Juno, High Times, 3/83]

It soon becomes apparent why his knees are padded, skateboard style, even if one is left to wonder why he doesn’t betray a similar concern for arms, chest and head. Whatever, Z’EV’s is a powerful stage presence, whose manic energy manifests itself in a dense swirl of metallic sound that sweeps up the listener in irresistable hypnotic waves. Either that, or it more simply drives you to the bar. [Chris Bohn, NME, 5/82]
People think you’re not a serious musician until you buy five thousand dollars worth of equipment. So you’re against consumerist culture. But it sounds like you’re also against collectivist culture. You’re talking about people opening up on an individual basis. That’s right. But a lot of people have a wrong take on anarchy – it’s not everybody doing whatever they feel like. The anarchy I’m talking about is everybody being really responsible, all the time. You have to be on top of things every minute.[Interview by Bruce Bebb, L.A. Free Weekly, 7/83]

Z’EV. Well, if you weren’t there it is going to be difficult to give an impression of this man. He describes himself as a ‘visual artist’ and came into this country from Los Angeles toting plastic bottles, bins, tins, springs and bars. He uses a combination of these to beat out a variety of rhythms (he has more than a passing interest in voodoo and its use of constant hypnotic rhythms). So much for the story. The practice was mind-boggling. At first, the sight of this man totally involved in beating rhythms and flinging himself about the stage provoked bemused laughter; someone behind me kept murmuring “brilliant… brilliant” as if they were trying to convince themselves that they were enjoying something they couldn’t comprehend. Then people seemed to become fascinated with the instrumentation and waited eagerly to see what he’d do with the next bit of junk. But when it comes down to it we were all standing there watching someone banging a load of rubbish around – which is something of a comment. And that is brilliant. [Unknown reviewer, Merseysound fanzine, 10/80]

Z’EV layers noises: clanging metal, clunking wood, crashing metal, rattling something, more clanging metal. But there is something about the way he does it that is compellingly musical. Not that I hear melodies, or phrasing, or anything like that. It’s some underlying quality that disposes me to consider this carefully-layered cacaphony as music. Some people these days make noise instead of music because they think it’s hip. This isn’t like that. Z’EV doesn’t just break the rules, he actually changes them.[Roy Sablosky, OP, 3/83]