The ZA sound is one entirely difficult to pin down. While they’ve clearly (and admittedly) spent years worshipping at the altar of Soft Machine and their Canterbury cohorts, part of ZA’s great ability is to seamlessly and originally fuse sundry outsider musical strains. Echoes of Sun Ra, White Noise, Terry Riley, the Residents, Faust and baroque psych can be heard in their colourful works. Their innovative treatment of acoustic instruments (drums, piano, guitar, glockenspiel, flute, saxophone, etc...) to achieve otherworldly and synthetic tones swings at times between the eclecticism of pre-Autobahn era Kraftwerk, and the pop-quirk of Joe Meek.
The barrage of signifiers in the previous paragraph does little to acquaint you with just how exuberant and alive the Automaat listening experience can be. Their adherence to structured composition and the elated sense of melody they bring to their music is at odds with the academic persona that often comes with the notion of experimental musicians. Also to consider is just how modern their music can seem, putting them less in debt to their influences and more in line with a tradition of accessible yet innovative music making. Fans of modern music may see parallels with the lo-fi modernism of late Broadcast or Black Dice at their most accessible.
At their best, Zacht Automaat make music for all ages - for the child whose sense of wonder is easily inspired by the playful and exotic in music, to the refined older music fan who seeks a sense of the cosmic (or kosmiche) in their listening. Truly, ZA is for everyone.