Enuma Elish: Leviathan

Matt Cibula

Enuma Elish is a jazz group, a rock group, a post-rock group, an electronic group, a funk band, and an avant-garde world music group.

Enuma Elish


Label: Lithiq
Amazon affiliate

Warren Jones and Yuri Zbitnoff are Enuma Elish. They are not yet famous but they will be.

Enuma Elish is a jazz group, a rock group, a post-rock group, an electronic group, a funk band, and an avant-garde world music group. They sometimes do this all in the same song, which is why some of their songs are 10 minutes long.

This album was recorded in 2002, around the same time as their first album, which I haven't heard. I do not know why they haven't released anything more recent yet, but it doesn't matter, as Leviathan sounds like it was recorded about five years in the future anyway.

These tracks are supposedly all "live", which means soloing over lots of loops and samples but no overdubbing. I have no idea how they can do this, but I thought it was cool in junior high when I thought it up as a concert staple for my own band, Supernova, which never actually existed, so it's hella cool now.

So, basically, Enuma Elish is the future.

Brief descriptions of the songs will not really do them justice, but here are a couple.

"Demon Mask" is in a 6/8 tempo, mostly, riding Zbitnoff's internationalist percussion loops (hand cymbals? cuica? trap set?) until Jones' sax and keyboard lines come in. There is a real melody here, and it continues even as Jones reaches full-on burnout Coltrane heights on tenor at the four-minute mark. Then things get really crazy, as Zbitnoff starts piling on the drum'n'bass fills over the next five minutes.

"Imminent Doom" begins with some cavernous drums -- I always start rapping "Rhymin' and Stealin'" when this comes on -- adds some spaceship juju jive and buzzsaw lines, and then goes all grindy and echoey and chaotic. Somewhere, a melody emerges, only to be pulled back into the tar pits. When the solos start, it sounds like someone screaming for help.

"The Arrival" sounds like the opening track from the difficult second album by the Star Wars Cantina Band.

One more: "Leviathan" sounds like the dub version of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

If this superhero team has a weakness, it might be that they don't use vocals, which means that ADD people can't get in on the fun, or that there is a general template here (rhythm, solos, freak-out solos, loop pile-ons, ending) that might get too familiar after a few albums. They'll have to fix that eventually.

Oh, and the pretention. They take their name from the Babylonian creation myth, which is a little overblown; their song titles allude to depths that their music doesn't necessarily justify. They'll either get deeper or start titling their songs "Long-Ass Drone" or "The One That Kicks Out the Jamz" or something.

But for now: nothing to fix. Love love love Enuma Elish.


From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

Subverting the Romcom: Mercedes Grower on Creating 'Brakes'

Julian Barratt and Oliver Maltman (courtesy Bulldog Film Distribution)

Brakes plunges straight into the brutal and absurd endings of the relationships of nine couples before travelling back to discover the moments of those first sparks of love.

The improvised dark comedy Brakes (2017), a self-described "anti-romcom", is the debut feature of comedienne and writer, director and actress Mercedes Grower. Awarded production completion funding from the BFI Film Fund, Grower now finds herself looking to the future as she develops her second feature film, alongside working with Laura Michalchyshyn from Sundance TV and Wren Arthur from Olive productions on her sitcom, Sailor.

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.