While you might mistake their position in the time-space continuum as Canterbury circa ’68, Carl Didur and Michael McLean’s Zacht Automaat have been one of Canada’s most exciting acts for the last five years. Since 2010, they’ve churned out 12(ish?) great-if-not-intriguing releases.
Normality Bias continues in ZA’s modus operandi of releasing LP-length genre-identity crises (good thing). “Babies on Top” – a mini-workshop in dumpster-tape Reich-worship – sits snugly between the Low-era-Bowie-goes-Canterbury of “There’s Mist in the Valley” and the six-string and synth berceuse of the aptly titled “Finger’s Lullaby”.
Elsewhere, the duo goes for baroque on a cosmic-prog version of Egg’s arrangement of “Fugue in Dmin”. The band also throws an appropriate and mesmerizing rework of Procol Harum’s prog-lite classic “Whiter Shade of Pale” in for good measure.
While the fidelity ranges from near-nil to mid-fi bliss, the quality never dips throughout. Even among a discography so lengthy it would be punishing if it weren’t so goddamn enjoyable, Normality Bias is a clear highlight in the ZA ouevre. Don’t sleep on this one.
Normality Bias is available now from Bandcamp.