Hollow percussion, appearing as a fog out of some cavernous consciousness, beats against the unrelenting whine of feedback that eventually consumes everything in its path grabbing the listener by the ears like some totalitarian football hooligan with no apparent agenda other than to be confrontational. It serves as an introduction to the newly established Oliver Ho and Tommy Gillard (project Zov Zov, which marks the second instalment of Ho’s newly established Death and Leisure label with a mini-album presented as The Sacred Pornography of God. Mercifully, Ho and Gillard ease up from their audacious opener and what could have been an antagonising 20 minutes of Broken English Club’s most irreverent, atonal nightmares subsides into an ecclesiastical veneration of an industrial god. That dissonance, dismay and dystopian felling that underpins much of Oliver Ho’s music is there re-enforced by the personality of Tommy Gillard whose sonic aesthetics are not that dissimilar and whose paths have crossed on numerous occasions through the world of Techno. They’ve even worked worked together before as Atlas and it’s as if Zov Zov has taken Tract and Wooden Hill from the aforementioned group’s Wires release and ventured to push that sound further into unfamiliar and frankly chilling territory. The result is new ground from both Ho and Gillard, at least in the recorded realm, where a new sonic atmosphere lies in the subconscious nightmares of a perturbed narrative.
There’s an obvious sacrilegious theme to the music, which lies there on the surface in the title of the tracks, and the droning chants of satanic monks on Your Body is a Parasite, but more than that there is Zov Zov’s agenda that worms its way through everything in the music. In an interview with the Formant earlier this year, Oliver Ho explained that the basic principle behind the group was to create “music that operates… more like something a lot more basic and visceral.” It’s music that should feel like it wasn’t made, “but rather flows out of the earth like lava, like its something that is elemental.” Zov Zov certainly achieves this in the soundscaping way the music exists, as irregular rhythms and creaking sonic elements shifting like tectonic plates and oozing music through the cracks of the artists’ immediate visage. Zov Zov avoids any known musical language in true a-tonal style, bringing “noises”– whose origins are sometimes revealed as having roots in a guitar or synthesiser – together in a complete improvised form that negates any familiar repetition and aides the organic feel of the music. It’s organic in the way of H.R Geiger and definitely not the way David Attenborough would interpret the term. There’s a mechanical aesthetic to the music, that comes through the tonal elements, but which gets smoothed over in the context of the music’s form and breathes life into the inert machine.
It’s furthest either Ho or Gillard has ever travelled from the dance floor, and it’s also the darkest either artist has appeared on the recorded format. They create an authoritative musical world as Zov Zov on this mini-album, one that allows the listener entry, but offers very few exits and once you’re in it, there’s no escaping. It consumes every thought and moment in time. The risk you take is solely yours and you can’t say that you haven’t been warned. That audacious opening is as much of a forewarning, as it is confrontational, and venturing past that is the point of no return, a doorway to a parallel reality where all that exists is the music.