Zelienople exist as a unique entry in the pantheon of Chicago musicians pushing the boundaries of genre. The quartet takes basic song-structures and textural palates of folk and rock and infuses them with the spontaneous fluidity of jazz and the shimmering haze of ambient music, emphasizing subtle facets of each genre to create their own individual style. Zelienople is Matt Christensen on guitar and vocals with Mike Weis on drums, Brian Harding on bass, and Donn Ha on keyboards. Christensen and Weis have both released solo works (on Bathetic, Type, and Barge) and perform regularly with Scott Tuma as Good Stuff House. Harding has released solo works on Constellation Tatsu and Plus Tapes. Weis is also a member of Kwaidan with Locrian’s André Foisy and has collaborated with Mind Over Mirrors, Steven Hess (Locrian, Cleared), Jasper TX, and Korean percussionist So Ra Kim. These are intuitive players that are established in both the experimental and rock scenes, blazing their own quiet path somewhere in-between.
Show Us The Fire is Zelienople’s first album for Chicago’s Immune Recordings and shows the band taking a more simplified approach to recording. These songs were written with live performance in mind, with each band member sticking to their primary instrument on every song. It is also the first release where Ha played an equal role in the band for every song. Zelienople, like Codeine before them, are masters of hushed anxiety, burying anger and discontent under layers of reverb and masking it with slow tempos. Many of the lyrics on Show Us The Fire focus on themes of wealth inequality and call for revolution, rooted in a call for social justice but also brimming with frustration. It is about the transcendence of hardships, not a wallowing in them. The effect is unsettling but beautiful.
Show Us The Fire was recorded live in Weis’ basement with minimal overdubs. Even more than past recordings it exudes a particularly homespun, intimate feel. Zelienople will play shows around the Midwest and New York in the coming months, while individual members also pursues their other musical endeavors.