Morrow vs. Hajduch: Zorch’s Demo EP

Scott Morrow is ALARM’s music editor. Patrick Hajduch is a very important lawyer. Each week they debate the merits of a different album.

Zorch: DemoZorch: Demo (3/8/11)

Zorch: “Zut Alore!”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Zorch_Zut_Alore.mp3|titles=Zorch: “Zut Alore!”]

Morrow: Zorch is a frantic instrumental-rock duo that used its debut EP to present swirling keyboard arpeggios, baritone synth grooves, and hyperactive beats that ever-so-slightly recall Zach Hill (after he comes down from speed).  Originally recorded and released on a small scale in 2009, Demo is seeing a re-release and new press push, thanks to a series of SXSW dates and some love from NPR.

Hajduch: “Zut Alore!” the opening track, actually fails the “instrumental” test with its four-bar chant that closes the track out.  There’s a nice riff backed with some big drums and a “bass line,” as it were, provided by a Fender Rhodes.  It’s simultaneously hooky and spastic; they find a way to nail that delicate balance that Lightning Bolt has made its wheelhouse.

Morrow: There’s that element of humor, too, in “Zut Alore!” — as the refrain states, “We’re controlling your lives with trilateral spies.”  (Maybe this element should have been obvious, as these dudes are dressed as a steak and a crab in their press shot, and the second song is titled “Crying During Circumcision is a Shame to the Whole Village.”)

I like that the material has a few different feels despite the EP only being four songs.  That second track, though still plenty energetic, slows the roll just a touch while going a little darker and even a little sludgy.

Hajduch: That second track reminds me of Liars, right down to the song title.  It’s great.  And it’s followed by “Morris the Lorris,” which has a punchy kinda ’70s-power-pop blown-out keyboard line and a fun melody.

The notable thing about these tracks is that they can rock without vocal hooks and remain engaging.  There’s a certain restraint at play: the lead lines are technical without falling into speed-riff-blur territory; the drums are all over but remain centered (less Zach Hill and more Keith Moon?).  Overall, this is a super strong release and it’s no surprise that it’s finally getting the attention it deserved in the first place.

Morrow: No doubt.  I’m always glad when a self-released “soft release” gets another PR push, even if the material has been out for a while, because those are the easiest releases to be buried under buzz.  I’m excited to hear what’s next.