Zaum: Vinyl Destination for a Slow Revolution 

Saturday 05th, August 2017 / 12:00
By Christine Leonard 

“There’s delays all over that thing as far as you can reach.”
Photo by Matteo Bassoli

CALGARY – Drawing a straight line between two points is usually the fastest way chart a course, but when it comes to Moncton, New Brunswick’s resident psychedelic doom band, Zaum, “It’s about the journey not the destination.” 

Or, so says bassist/vocalist/synth/sitar player Kyle Alexander McDonald, who along with bandmate drummer/percussionist Christopher Lewis has been painting black vinyl overtures for the soul since forming Zaum back in 2013. Named for the linguistic experiments of Russian poets Velimir Khlebnikov and Aleksei Kruchenykh, Zaum’s string theory seeks to decelerate the rhythms of life until vibrational escape routes appear between the notes.   

“It’s funny, we never intentionally set out to make a song long, it’s just the way things turn out,” says McDonald.

“Most of our tempos are just so unbelievably slow that when you take the structure of a normal four-minute-long song it can quickly turn into a 16-minute song. When you watch the band it probably feels like we have to have more of a memory, but surprisingly being in the band itself it doesn’t really feel that way at all.” 

Touring heavily throughout Europe (where audiences are more likely to seek out bands that they’re unfamiliar with, in McDonald’s estimation), the band made a name for themselves by laying down heavy atmospheric sets that established a hypnotic state of mind for the audience.  

“We’ve been so busy touring overseas that we haven’t had the chance to play in Canada maybe as much as people would like, but I almost feel that you’re better off doing it that way than over saturating,” says McDonald.  

An imaginative amalgam of exotic Eastern and progressive Western ingredients, Zaum’s latest release Eidolon appeared in October of 2016 via underground curators I Hate Records. Crafted for vinyl, the vine-draped Eidolon follows the path of their 2014 debut, Oracles, and their impressive 2015 split 7-inch with fellow stoner rockers Shooting Guns, dubbed Himalaya to Mesopotamia. Consisting entirely of a pair of sprawling tracks, including “Influence of the Magi” and “The Enlightenment,” Eidolon’s enthralling emanations take the listener on a deep-listening voyage through caverns measureless to man, to quote Coleridge. Fans of Sleep, Om and Yob would be well advised to experience Zaum’s sonic sherpa sessions for themselves. 

“It is a trip. There’s no way around that it’s psychedelic-based. I mean, there’s delays all over that thing as far as you can reach.” 

Prepared to astral project themselves across Canada after a lengthy absence, the Music NB award-winning duo is looking forward to road tripping with supporting act Flying Fortress. To make things even more interesting, Flying Fortress’s drummer, Steelrider, is tied-up so McDonald will be pulling double-duty and filling in for him. 

“I feel like it’s the first time I’m going to bite this much off. So, it might be more than I can chew!”

Concludes McDonald, “But I’m coming in really prepared and I know that band very well and I’m super familiar with the material. I’m looking forward to playing with our old friends, and new ones in the future, it’s just such a crazy deep pool of up and coming bands out there.” 


ZAUM perform with Flying Fortress August 12 at the Brixx (Edmonton) and August 18 at Distortion (Calgary).

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