Want a quick hit summary on an interesting record? Zu’s Cortar Todo, out now on Mr. Mike Patton’s Ipecac Records, is a mind-bending mélange of metal, grindcore, math-rock and no-wave. Boom: there’s the two cents. Wait: no. Take two! Cortar Todo, out now on Ipecac, feels inconsistent in spots but it also is blessed with a kind of morbid inconsistency. No, that sounds ridiculous. How about, “It welcomes the ability to manipulate space?” Yeah, yeah, thanks Asimov. It is a great record. Well. It is weird around the edges. Sometimes. You should hear it either way. Probably. I think.
The record is perplexing, for good reason. It pairs knockout tracks (the metal-for-the-masses thrash of “Rudra Dances Over Burning Rome”) with meandering sound experiments that seem to be ill-placed or ill-sequenced (“Serpens Cauda”). In one breath, it’s truly mesmerizing art-metal (“Orbital Equilibria”). In the next, it falls down the same traps as other bands of its ilk, which think the answer to stagnancy is more takes on electronica (Sorry guest Joey Karam, I’m not buying most of “Conflict Acceleration.”) But, man. That title track? Whew. With the deadening bass pulse and chunky muted guitar paired with the constant kick drum? Now that’s MEAN! And Zu works it well.
We should go no further without mentioning that Zu, now in its 15th year and with 2,000-and-change live shows under its collective belt, is joined this time out by Locust drummer Gabe Serbian, who does a mighty job holding the bottom end. (YOWZA, YOWZA) Serbian is one of the highlights of the record, without a doubt, but it’s easy to miss hearing him in cataclysmic, 90-second bursts of fury, all rage and implosive time signatures. He works some magic here but he’s also more of a traditionalist in spots. For those interested in the Serbian of old, I highly recommend Wet Lungs, his Austin-based outfit, which traffics in songs of the, um, short variety.
All in all, Cortar Todo is a fine record, with some thrashing and densely crafted moments that will leave blisters on your damn ears. It’s just not the most evenly spread, whether on purpose or by fault of stumbling block. Call it what you will. Nonetheless, it’s worth a passing listen if you’re in the neighborhood.