The general free-flowing complexity of zeuhl music and the band name We Pyrrhic Conquerors suggest a sizable ensemble of musicians, performing with some level of loose improvisation. Yet Bandcamp informs us that the richly composed The End Is Nigh is the product of one Joey M. Bishop. That’s about all the information I can glean about the artist; there’s no Facebook page to refer to, no specific location given (Bandcamp tags the project as United States, but the drums were recorded at a studio in Indonesia?), and even Google currently returns zero results for the band name as a quoted string. At any rate, the music here mirrors the mysterious nature of the project, a swirl of guitars, bass, strings, horns, some wind instruments, and drums, framed with a distinctly psychedelic slant and tremendous detail and fluidity that make it hard to believe one man could have generated and arranged all these sounds. (There is credit given to Falling into Birds for “doctored samples”; this appears to be another of Bishop’s projects, but with a sextet of other musicians filling out the orchestral side. Perhaps Bishop gets docked a few points for not being able to play every instrument in the orchestra, but still gets full marks for assembling the samples remarkably.)
I particularly appreciate the driving energy of the songs. I often find zeuhl to be too meandering and ungrounded to hold my interest, but this album keeps its momentum through the rollicking drum performance and distinct melodies placed at the forefront. Different instruments weave in and out frequently to lead the way, like a cacophony of sonic salmon racing upstream. The sound is incredibly focused, straddling the lines of psychedelic rock and progressive jazz, hearkening back to the days of bands like U.F.O. and Mahavishnu Orchestra. The production is immaculate considering the variety of instruments that had to be balanced, and helps make the listening experience a joy from start to finish. A great zeuhl album is a rare gem, and this one belongs in the pantheon beside the best modern offerings in the genre.
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