Brum Brutalism inspires modular jazz


Birmingham-based Pete Grimshaw, creating mellifluous modular synth workouts with a decidedly jazzy feel. And the perfect musical accompaniment to these electronic experiments? The hypnotic drone of an accordion, obviously. Piera Onacko does the honours, and Nathan England-Jones adds free-flowing organic drums. “I’ve been trying to bring the acoustic and electronic elements into the same sonic space,” says Pete. “Joining the celestial with the terrestrial… I wanted to tie the music to the city we live in.”

Why Zyggurat?

New mini-album ‘Broken Circle’ has been picked up by Clay Pipe, the ideal label for a soothing, contemplative record with a distinct link to place. Indeed, the group take their name from the shape of Birmingham’s lamented Central Library, a Brutalist masterpiece completed in 1974, but demolished in 2016. “A few years ago I put on an event at a speakeasy in the Jewellery Quarter, and wrote some music to perform there,” explains Pete. “One of the tunes, called ‘Klatch At The Zyggurat’, was about a dystopian rave in the library. There’s just something about Brutalist architecture that captures my imagination. Birmingham is well-known for re-imagining itself architecturally, and the demolished Central Library is a bittersweet reminder of this progress.”

Tell Us More…

“In terms of synths, my game-changer was Luke Abbott’s 2012 album, ‘Modern Driveway’,” says Pete. As further influences, he cites contemporary Italian outfit Tweeedo and the groundbreaking work of Suzanne Ciani. But Zyggurat are forging their own style. Pete’s love of Brutalism, he claims, derives from the movement being “simultaneously ancient and futuristic”. Listen to ‘The Dream’, the concluding track of ‘Broken Circle’, and it’s hard not to apply the same description to the wheezing bellows and whirling bleeps of a band fuelled by delicious contrasts.

‘Broken Circle’ is out on Clay Pipe

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