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new artists to notice

Zechs Marquise

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New Artist Week continues with the second of seven new groups you should have your radar before 2011 ends.

Zechs Marquise by Heriberto Ibarra

Getting Paid (released September 27) is a work best enjoyed dressed in a velvet suit whilst sucking down whippets on a round sofa as monkey butlers peel grapes and mix cocktails. At least that’s the sort of strange scenes from the gold mine that shake loose inside one’s mind while the second album from Zechs Marquise spins. This beatifically bug-fuck album dips into early 70s Miles Davis and the darker corners of King Crimson, largely instrumental music with serious shading and palpable menace, funk-touched mad jazz rockin’ with sprinklings of contemporary blip culture. Think Magical Mystery Tour stripped of (most) vocals and then shot in the ass with Superfly sauce and you’re moving into Zechs Marquise’s neighborhood.

The group currently boasts three siblings of Mars Volta mastermind Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, which has garnered Zechs Marquise some attention. But in musical terms, this band bears little resemblance to what Omar is laying down. Zechs Marquise is more graciously melodic, eager to seduce even as they tickle strange synapses and skip around bumptious rough terrain just off the smooth highways that zigzag through their music. In only two albums, they’ve begun to establish a distinct identity in the hard-to-stand-out-in field of instrumental rock. A couple cuts on Getting Paid dabble in vocals, effectively adding an element many instrumental peers fail miserably at and pointing at new directions they might explore, but mainly they get across a unique voice without having to speak a word, developing rapidly and offering folks already into say Lotus or STS9 a chewy new Scooby Snack to chop on, as well as an energizing flavor for more traditional prog and fusion fans.

Zechs Marquise splashes color around, creating music that stirs an almost lysergic awareness in the listener, where sound takes on substance and the air thickens in ways that make one’s nostrils flair. This steadily mutating ensemble is picking up seemingly disparate echoes – the dubby bounce of Sly Stone’s Fresh, the animalized electric growl of Adrian Belew, Jon Hassell’s breathy rumble, Check Your Head Beastie Boys, vintage Fania Records jams, to name but a few – and sending these alluring tidbits rebounding into space, and then mixing it all together with what the universe sends back. A lot of touchstones referenced in a small space but Zechs Marquise inspires such big-handed grasping. They possess the potential to stride wide like these giants.