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Robert Ziino

Slaves For The Billionaires

Review by Gary Hill

This instrumental CD is, in a word, weird. It's all experimental keyboard work. The music is not that far removed from some of Brian Eno's stuff or some of the other instrumental prog of the 1970's. This is definitely not for everyone, but it has its charms. It is important to note, though, that while this sounds like keyboards it is actually modular synthesizers rather than keyboards. That said, the individual track recordings reflect the sound, if not the true nature, of the recordings.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Stinging the Robots
Chirping, swirling jabs of keyboard sound make up the first half of this track. It modulates out to more of a motor hum after a time.  As it winds up to a hyper pitch we get a flock of keyboard birds whipping about. Then it’s a bit of videogame music. A sputtering motor rendered via keyboard ends this.

Evolutionary Culdesac
This one feels quite similar to the last cut with chirping keyboards presenting a swirling sort of pattern of sound. This is computer music at its finest, sure to please the robot in your house. It drops back to a more sedate droning after a time. This ends leaving us with silence. A new 60 cycle hum sound takes it and then a flock of robotic geese make their way across the soundscape. This gives way to a pulsating sound. As this modulates out we get a reprise of some of the earlier elements.
Falsely Disturbed
With a scream our video game hero is thrown high in the air. As he comes back down he’s subjected to an ever faster barrage of punches. A fast paced keyboard pattern takes it for a time and then gives way to more of a droning, hum. This modulates after a time in a pattern that at points feels as if it is tuning and detuning. Then we get some seriously insect like screech pattern. This works its way through after a time. Computerized blips and bleeps take us after a while and then this modulates out and eventually becomes another hum. This works through several variations in frequency and becomes a high powered drill at points.
Infancy of Human Reason
A chiming sort of keyboard pattern starts this and holds it for a time.  This one doesn’t really alter much at all and gets a bit long.

The Art of Choas
No, I didn’t misspell the title – that’s how it reads on the CD cover.  There isn’t a huge difference here. We get more keyboard oriented weirdness like some computer’s progressive rock. This one does get some more real melody than much of the other material here and is stronger because of it.
Money is God
While in some ways this doesn’t differ a lot, it has an actual rhythmic structure and feels almost like a real “song.” This is actually one of the highlights of the CD.
Monsters in the Black House
This one has a rhythmic structure, like the last piece. Unlike that one, though, it’s more of the seemingly random keyboard wanderings.
No Worries in the Urn
The first half of this cut is essentially fast paced video game music. It drops way down to ambience later and then comes back in with chirping, echoey patterns of sound.

Police in the Kitchen
This is quite possibly the coolest track on show here. Much of the music sounds like sirens, hence the title, but this one has a rhythmic pattern and just about qualifies as “rock” music.
Slaves for the Billionaires
The rhythm on this one reminds me a bit of the ambient bits on Genesis’ Duke CD. The keyboards here are quite a bit more effective and it feels somewhere between frogs croaking and some kind of robotic conversation.
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