Formed by former members of glam-garage weirdos Hystoic Vein, this currently New York-based no wave noise trio’s self-released debut CD/R comes delivered in a sealed plastic medical packet, although what malady this particular prescription has been made out to cure is anyone’s guess. From the contents of the CD, it seems to be a remedy for a chronic deficiency in shrieking, dentist drill guitar solos, vampish vocal growls and hyperkinetic, proto-metal drum rattles.
Teenage Jesus & The Jerks are an obvious reference point, but they were never as good a bunch of musicians as The ZZZs, whose every move is delivered with brutal, technical efficiency beneath the veiling squall of clattering, bottleneck guitar noise skronk. In fact the whole CD exudes confidence, and while with many postpunk and no wave bands, the appeal comes in part from the listener’s sense of following the band while they feel their way through the music as if discovering their own songs for the first time while they play them, with the ZZZs there’s a sense that what we are witnessing an already fully-formed group who know exactly what they are doing every step of the way.
Dystopia opens the EP driven by a powerful, uncompromising flurry of fierce, grinding bass, shifting rhythms and hysterical, metallic guitar, while the more conventionally structured G’s suggests something of the band’s garage-punk roots, at the same time recalling elements of UK postpunkers Wire’s Once is Enough in its repetitive two-note guitar riff. The core of what the ZZZs do, however, is explosive energy, either delivered in fierce bursts after tense, repressed buildups as on Suicide, or right from the get go, as on Red Light. They chop and change between different rhythmical segments, but without the math-rockish overlapping complexity of some Japanese postpunk contemporaries like Tokyo’s Tacobonds or The Mornings, and at heart, the music on Shōhōsen (Prescription) is aggressive and fundamentally accessible rock’n’roll, made by a group of musicians no longer satisfied by the restrictions of garage rock and now employing more avant-garde tools in the service of their still essentially primal musical goals.
Needless to say it’s ruthlessly effective and hits you like a punch to the gut. Whatever kind of medicine the ZZZs are peddling here, it’s brutal stuff. Always close lid firmly and keep out of reach of young children.