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Zone - Alien Nature

It's a wonder that Chris Brandrick and Andrew Cadmore the duo behind Zone aren't more widely known in experimental circles. Zone were an early signing to World Serpent and while others have gone onto greater things, the Welsh duo have been left somewhat languishing. Alien Nature represents their fifth album and the first airing of material since the demise of World Serpent. It's a confusing and frustrating release - and I mean that in a positive way - fusing together experimental, electronic, experimental electronics and electro-acoustic with ethnic music, sound poetry and at least one nod to neo-classical. And that's just the first couple of tracks.

The rhythmic electronics that feature on Alien Nature are, at times, not too far removed from the works of Chris and Cosey or Carter Tutti. 'Deluge' is a case in point that despite the abrasiveness maintains a melodic feel. Even the pulsating beat of 'He Came Out To Me' ensures it remains quite accessible despite the layered electronics appearing to fold in on themselves, and the occasional appearance of wailing ethnic instruments. 'Chinese Whispers' absorbs an electro rhythm from flickering chime like sounds, tablas and playful piano stabs. For around nine minutes the rhythms continue unabated in mantra like fashion. Spacey sounds and varied electronics are looped to create a hypnotic and beguiling track.

'Duchamps Cycle' sets shards of TG-esque electronics against a ticking clock. It's immediately followed by an evocative piano score and gentle keyboards. The giddy sounds of 'The Cabinet' feature playful rhythms, electronic noodling and snare drumming that evoke visions of a sinister troop of Toy Town soldiers. The vast array of sounds that Zone have at their fingertips is inspiring but as each track adopts elements of varied styles it becomes somewhat intimidating. It's a testament to their diversity and creativity that I was literally tired out after trying to pin this album down.

The shuddering vibrations, drones and alien rhythms of 'Attacking The Heart' display an other (third?/fourth?) dimension to the group. It's followed by 'No More Words' which pits the poetry of Jeremy S. Gluck against jarring electronics. Its by far the best of the collaboration with the wordsmith, as the words have to battle against the treated and twisted sounds. The spectral electronics, reverberating tones and otherworldly hums of 'Dream Abuse' complete the trinity of tracks that could easily be consumed by Coil, Cyclobe et al enthusiasts. An albums worth of material in this vein would certainly be worthwhile.

Alien Nature is a bewildering release and one that I think the more adventurous listener would enjoy; it's certainly a release that deserves wider exposure. For more information go to