- Stars of Zoo is the first long-player from Catz 'N Dogz, the Polish duo who also record under the 3 Channels moniker; it's also the debut album on Mothership, an offshoot of Claude VonStroke's Dirtybird label. But you'll find little of the bent jack-house associated with VonStroke or the stripped down techno that 3 Channels is known for. Instead, production partners Grzegorz Demianczuk and Wojciech Taranczuk opt for an off-kilter, club-worthy exotica, with jungle drums and humid, sweat-drenched production that's reminiscent of the music that acts such as Chaino and His African Percussion Safari were producing in the '60s for suburban-swinger parties. Only with a bigger kick drum, of course.
Another point of reference is Yello, particularly in the later "Jungle Bill" days—like that Swiss twosome, Catz 'N Dogz lend their music with a cinematic reach that elevates it beyond simple dance music. On "Sunset in the East" (a collaboration with France's dOP), the pair construct a lush, ever-building tropical rhythm, with a slow-burn horn section culminating in some nicely skronking baritone sax—it's a cut that could soundtrack the scene in a '60s b-movie where our hero is chased through a vine-heavy rain forest. The pair push and pull their tribalisms in all directions: "2" rachets up the tension with a touch of acidic grind and metallic sheen, for instance, while "Omonko" recalls a toughened up version of the dub-house sound of '90s-era Worship Records. The overall effect is somewhat reminiscent of Ricardo Villalobos's percussion-based tracks, albeit with a rhythmic sensibility rooted firmly in Africa rather than Latin America. On Stars of Zoo, however, the rigid minimalism of Villalobos is replaced by a heightened sense of melody and a general air of freak-beat playfulness.
The album isn't all equatorial high jinks, of course: "Yes They Still Play Casio" (probably the track most reminiscent of 3 Channels the album has to offer) is a skittering tech-house scorcher, while "Kaniani" is a sweet 'n' deep late-night charmer. But it's these tropical rhythms—propulsive, mysterious and, at times, a little bit goofy—that make Stars of Zoo stand out.
02. Sunset in the East feat. dOP
06. Kill the Frog
07. Confused feat. Monty Luke
08. My Zoo Is Your Zoo
09. Skit nr2
10. Yes They Still Play Casio feat. Mathias Kaden
12. Sunset In the East feat. DOP - vinyl version