Review: ZIA – Drum’N’Space

[Click here to stream the album]

ZIA is, for the most part, a one-woman microtonal pop band, with Elaine Walker behind the wheel. Releasing albums since 1998 under the monicker ZIA, and experimenting since the very beginning with xenharmonic tunings, Drum’N’Space is the first all-microtonal album. On top of it all, this album is said to be only part of an epic space rock opera that is in the works! If that doesn’t scratch your weird music itch…

Drum’N’Space is written in multiple tunings. The first song is in 17 notes per octave (or EDO, for equal divisions of the octave, or also TET), and other tunings are used throughout the album: 10-EDO, 16-EDO, 19-EDO, and the Bohlen-Pierce scale (watch the video below). I always find it interesting when artists use microtonal music in a more consonant way because making off-putting music with microtonal dissonances is kinda easy (Jute Gyte being an exception here). Another great microtonal artist whom I respect a lot, who uses microtonal in a more consonant manner, is Brendan Byrnes. And I have to admit there are slight parallels between ZIA and Brendan Byrnes. First, they both use a lot of synthesizers. They both make great-sounding microtonal music, and I officially recommend them both to check out. They seem to be minds alike.

Here is “Love Song” in the Bohlen-Pierce scale.

I am truly excited about this whole “space rock opera in the works” thing. Since Drum’N’Space came out about 4 years ago (in 2011), and seeing the approximate time between her releases (about 5 or 6 years), we can be expecting part 2 of her microtonal space opera in a year or two! Count on me to be covering that here! In the mean time, I suggest you take a listen on this weird little gem, and also on ZIA’s other releases!