‘Self-assured’ is the one term that captures the essence of the latest Zelienople in a nutshell. Returning to the Type label after “His/Hers” from 2007, after spending time in side project Good Stuff House and after releasing a limited double cdr on Under The Spire, the trio of percussionist Mike Weis, guitarist/vocalist Matt Christensen and Brian Harding return with what is yet another late entry in my best-of-year list.
Said cdr on Under the Spire featured the band’s more abstract, experimental side. While the release got a lot of praise, I shied away from the release, being somewhat tired of 20-minute tracks of ambient drone. Not that there was time to reconsider: If memory serves, “Hollywood” sold out almost instantly. Still, it came as a relief when I realized that “Give It Up” – while it does not totally forsake the interest in abstract soundscapes – marries them with the trio’s trademark sepia’d, laid-back but still heavily distorted take on, well, folk pop. Zelienople make music for experienced people, and to me at least it feels as if their best releases help to make you wiser. And “Give It Up” is certainly one of their best. Album opener “Aging” has been compared to Bohren & der Club of Gore, but it’s not as dark as this comparison might suggest. From there it’s on to “Can’t Stop”, a monolith clocking in at nine minutes and evolving from the early post-rock American Analogue Set-like Zelienople sound to a full-blown noise attack that miraculously manages to still sound introspective, while shredding all gazed at shoes to pieces. Clearly, a future Zelienople release on Erik Skodvin’s Miasmah would make perfect aesthetic sense.
I’m only fantasizing, but I guess the band wouldn’t be totally adverse to such a deal. After all, more than other artists, Zelienople seem to have had tough luck when it comes to releases. I’m not an insider, but there’s no way I can account for the fact that Zelienople’s recent output has either been made available as free download (which goes for “Old Ways to Nowhere” which the band “shelved” after completion) or is included with the vinyl version of this album (as in the case of the “Gone” soundtrack) – two album’s worth of material that have never seen a proper individual release. Here’s hoping for more physical Zelienople, soon. 8/10 -- Jan-Arne Sohns (16 December, 2009)