Zero Zero: AM Gold

Zero Zero
AM Gold
Jade Tree

Frankly I’ve never given a hoot about the musical art form known as electronica. Perhaps it has to do with age or maybe it’s just a matter of personal preference, but I still do not understand the fascination nor I have I ever been able to pin down its redeeming value. While I’m not completely close-minded to the genre, my opinion of said art form is not likely to change with Zero Zero’s debut AM Radio.

Made up of remnants of the New Jersey hardcore punk outfit Lifetime, Zero Zero (Dave Idea, Ari Katz and Miss TK) takes the proverbial 180 degree turn stylistically, leaving their bombastic, hardcore roots far behind in their quest for electronic supremacy. Though experimental, the path that AM Radio takes doesn’t really lead to anything groundbreaking by any means.

To Zero Zero’s credit, there are a few impressive moments. Just the use of vintage instrumentation like classic Moog, Arp and Korg synthesizers and Farfisa organ get your attention right away, harkening back to the sounds that permeated AM radio in ’60s and ’70s. The album’s opening track, “True Zero”, followed by the title-track are dynamite tunes with a great grooves. “True Zero” gives the listener an idea of what Green Day might sound like on a hopped-up dance mix, while “AM Radio” sports a ska flavor with vocals reminiscent of the late Brad Nowell (Sublime).

Several of the other songs reminded me, instrumentally, of the kind of cheesy, generic, keyboard-driven music that blasted out of Gilligan’s transistor radio on so many episodes of Gilligan’s Island, or the background dance music at Opie’s teen parties on the colorized versions of The Andy Griffith Show. It’s forgettable music that’s just there as background noise.

Listen! The problem I have with electronica is the same problem I have with rap ѿ samples, loops and programs. To me, it’s not real music. Its manufactured quality lacks the human element. It doesn’t take a genius to push buttons or program a drum machine, but yet some have been called such for doing just that. If I want to dance I’ll put on Kool and the Gang’s “Celebrate” or Lipps Inc.’s “Funkytown”. If I want kooky keyboards I’ll listen to the B-52’s “Rock Lobster” or Gary Numan’s “Cars”. At least it’s real!

As forAM Radio. It did absolutely nothing to change my mind about the genre. I still despise it! Which means that electronica purists will probably love AM Radio.