REVIEW: Zakas – “Illegitimus Non Carborundum”

By Manda L. Earp

Chain Border

Illegitimus Non CarborundumIn capital letters, and with all of the enthusiasm in the world, I proclaim to you: I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW ECLECTIC THIS CD IS! This is an odd comment coming from a girl who thinks that most types of music nowadays are just poor rip-offs and replications of other people’s sounds; who thinks that originality in music is a long-lost art form. Zakas, however, is so refreshing in style and form that I’m taking off my bitter and cynically tinted glasses and replacing them with a pair of rose-colored ones.

Zakas, a Las Vegas musician and programmer, collaborates with 26 other individuals to put together the intriguing Illegitimus Non Carborundum (and for those of us who slept through Latin class in ninth grade, the title translates into “Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down.”) The long list of musical talents featured on this CD include vocalists, electric violinists, a flugelhorn player, a saxophonist and a Chinese narrator, along with Zakas himself who is in charge of “all drums, percussion, programming, theramin, unusual noises and vocals.”

Again, let me take this opportunity to point out that this is the most original and eclectic CD that you will ever take pleasure in hearing. Zakas’s music will draw you in wholeheartedly, hold fast to your deranged and unorthodox mind and twist your thoughts and ideas past the breaking point. It will change everything you thought you knew about music as the luscious juxtaposition of jazz, 1980’s metal, hard rock and programming warp your listening expectations.

The best part is, all of this wonderful musicianship is displayed within the first twenty seconds of Illegitimus Non Carborundum. Monster Surf, the first of eighteen tracks on this album, is a three-minute romp through the Space Age complete with groovy beach-style guitar strumming and slight gothic undertones. If anyone was searching for a summer anthem, something to listen to on your beach blanket. Humor reigns supreme on this CD, especially track four entitled Row. Every moment of this five-minute piece pays homage – in a seemingly comedic sense – to the life of a pirate and his crew. There is no singing, only talking (in a wonderfully cheesy pirate-style voice, complete with a few “args” for your listening pleasure) and the instrumentation provided in the background is of professional quality. Rocking heavy-metal guitar riffs dominate this piece and the violin adds just the right dissonance to the beginning and ending of the song.

Track thirteen, House of Kang, is another perfect example of the humor Zakas is fond of using in Illegitimus Non Carborundom. Opening with a light crash on the gong, this track features narration in a flowing, laid-back Hawaiian style promoting the mysterious sounds of the Far East with the modernization of the West. A woman’s voice during the mostly-sung chorus adds the perfect Chinese flavoring and the soft, skilled flute playing is dreamy towards the ending. But behind the humor there is truth. God’s Black Space is a mostly-spoken piece featuring the mysteries of alien artifacts and former civilizations on Mars, set to bizarrely disturbing violin playing and the repetitive, haunting clang of a bell. Micro Mechanisms, which begins with an intense bass line and marching, stringent drumming, discusses the onset of Nanotechnology in a PSA-style dialogue. Ominous tones plague both of these pieces, making sure that you never forget what you just heard – musically and informatively.

However, the most bizarre (and I mean that in a positive way) song on this CD is track eight, entitled El Chupacabra. Starting with the rapid, frantic voice of a woman speaking Spanish and quickly changing into upbeat, Mexican-style trumpeting, this song had me running to Google to figure out just what in the hell a “Chupacabra” actually is. Seven years of Spanish classes and a trip to Madrid certainly did not prepare me for what I read about the subject. According to legend, El Chupacabra, or “The Goat Sucker” (for those currently unable to find their Spanish-to-English dictionaries), was first spotted in Puerto Rico in 1994 drinking the blood of goats on several neighboring farms. Since its exposure 10 years ago El Chupacabra, which looks like a four foot tall version of Sonic the Hedgehog with big, black alien-like eyes, has been spotted all over South America. As a fan of anything extraterrestrial in nature, I’ve been checking for El Chupacabra every night in the woods adjacent to my apartment complex and have put off plans to visit South America indefinitely. Anyhow, ignoring my fears and turning back to the matter-at-hand, this four-minute track is musically intelligent and, at points, surprisingly upbeat. The drumming and Rush-influenced guitar playing is out of this world (all pun intended). This is a track that should not be skipped over.

Want visuals to accompany the music? You got it. Just check out the cover art and you’ll get a feel of the type of mind-blowing, science fiction influenced music that you are in for. The front cover is a gothic, sci-fi hybrid featuring a Satanic-like wolf pulling away in injury from a guy attempting to stab the shit out of him, who looks surprisingly like Magneto from the X-Men comic book series. The inside art is a haunting drawing of three pyramids floating in very murky water; which, for some reason (and I’m not high when I say this) look like they are moving towards me, actually creeping towards me. And the art on the back of the CD is a horrible, green-eyed alien creature covered in scales and dripping blood from his barracuda-shaped teeth. The artistry is dark, different and exotic, and buying a copy of this CD for the artwork alone would be well worth it.

From the passionately trippy, jazzy saxophone playing in R.I.F.T. (Realms In Floating Tranquility) to the Celtic, battle-like intensity of War Braid, Illegitimus Non Carborundom has something for everyone. This is a bizarre collection of music, but a good collection of music, with musicians who know exactly how to play their instruments and utilize their talents to the fullest of their abilities. So make sure to listen to this CD. Or the aliens and pirates and El Chupacabra will come to get you. Zakas promises it.

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Contact Information:
McC Music, Inc.
Post: 3230 E. Flamingo Rd., Suite 8 #354, Las Vegas, NV, 89121, USA
Phone: (800) 434-6675
Fax: (702) 891-8837
E-Mail: zakas@aliensurgeon.com
Web: www.mccrecords.com

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