Zack Zack Zack
You’d have been hard pressed to find more enthusiastic champions of Zack Zack Zack when the Austrian duo’s debut EP emerged at the beginning of 2021 than us at ID:UD. Linking modern approaches to darkwave and post-punk with traditional Turkish instrumentation, tunes like “Bütün” were fresh, suave, and had an undeniable sense of cool when encountered on dancefloors. A follow-up LP which expanded on the EP felt rushed, though, without enough substantive new material to hold itself together. Thankfully, the handily titled Album 2 delivers the sort of focused and satisfying experience we knew Yigit Bakkalbasi and Cemgil Demirtas were capable of.
A good portion of what drew us to the band with tracks like “Bak” and “Bütün” is right up front in Album 2 with the slinky lope of opener “Yaradan”, where a hypnotic guitar line swirls above a slowly building darkwave groove, with Demirtas’ vocals weaving through the smoke, making it the perfect set-up for the sort of nightclub ennui to which the lyrics refer. While a bit more speedy and bracing, the modern recasting of dance-punk taken up by “Toprak” is a similarly solid showcase for the band’s sense of classic structures as well as their own unique strengths.
The dialed-in but stripped down programming which shapes much of the record is perhaps its secret weapon, or at least the key to its unity. The dreamy airiness of earlier pieces “Galactica” and “This Feeling” is far less common this time around, with the tight and claustrophic rhythm of “Österreichisches Erzeugnis” which acts as a foundation for its equally tense guitar, or the synthpunk pogo of “EV” holding sway. And when there is some breathing room offered, as on the spiral staircase sax goth of “Luftballon” or the almost Survive-like synth haze of “Oluler Susar”, its all the more effective for its contrast with the rest of the record.
Zack Zack Zack had an incredible amount of potential and personality from the moment they emerged: an ear for modern grooves, the switching between German and Turkish lyrics which reflects their cross-continental musical influences, their droll sense of humour (there’s a manic ode to the efficiency of German rail on this record, for Pete’s sake). Marshalling all of those into a full record, not just individual tunes, may have taken them a couple of tries, but the payoff has been well worth the wait. Recommended.