Q&A: Sam Hilmer Of Diamond Terrifier And Zs On Booking PRACTICE! Gigs At Zebulon, "Zs" As A Genre, And Not Being Jazz

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Sam Hilmer is one of the purveyors of daring, free-minded, sound-manipulating experimentalist local outfit Zs, and it's fitting that the seriously bearded saxophonist would refute the generic "post-minimalist, neo-no wave, industrial noise" descriptor tossed at the band he shares with guitarist extraordinaire Ben Greenberg and drummer Ian Antonio and opt for his own genre: "Zs is Zs."

For a decade, Zs has clung to that "It's Zs" philosophy, constantly reinventing then retiring its music from the live setting. At this weekend's Crossing Brooklyn Ferry festival, Hilmer and Greenberg will debut new material from their forthcoming LP, cryptically entitled Xe.

But Hilmer has a hell of a lot going on besides Zs. Under the nom de plume Diamond Terrifier, the sax-slinging Hilmer composes a storm of apocalyptic skronk waves of both face-ripping and hypnotic proportions; in the fall, Northern Spy will release his solo debut, KILL THE SELF THAT WANTS TO KILL YOUR SELF.

Sound of the City caught up with Hilmer at Williamsburg's Zebulon, where he books killer gigs every Tuesday evening and usually performs as Diamond Terrifier.

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Download Christopher Weingarten's Hipster Puppies Cassette Release Party Podcast, Filled With NYC Bands

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Next Wednesday, SOTC pal Christopher R. Weingarten will celebrate the release of the cassette companion to his canines-and-coolness tome Hipster Puppies—a tape stuffed with a roster of 18 local bands that includes Das Racist, Yvette, and Liturgy—with a party at Public Assembly. The party will host sets by Zs, Mountains, Burning Star Core, and Dinowalrus, all of whom contributed to the tape. In advance of the party, Chris has prepared a 71-minute podcast with songs by and interviews with all four bands—think of it as your chance to hear four Yes In My Backyard columns come together live. (Or, well, live to tape, anyway.) Link and track listing below.

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The Best Local Music Of 2010: Our Annual Mixtape Starring Sweet Bulbs, Marnie Stern, Sharon Van Etten, and Special Guest Hannibal Buress

Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent. This is a compilation of 2010's best local music, lovingly curated by YIMBY columnist Christopher R. Weingarten. See last year's tape here.

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R.I.P. Chris Weingarten's old blue trucker hat. Photo by Rebecca Smeyne.
Have you heard the one about how the recession is over? Uh, don't tell it to New York City's musical community. While our center-of-the-universe assembly line of hype puttered on unabated, 2010's biggest up-and-comer success stories were actually beamed from the outer limits of the five boroughs--Titus Andronicus (Glen Rock, NJ), Screaming Females (New Brunswick, NJ), Phantogram (Saratoga Springs, NY), Real Estate (Ridgewood, NJ)--places where money can go to tour vans instead of landlords, where musicians aren't paying $400 a month for the luxury of sharing a practice space with three other bands. The remaining New York City indie-crossovers all benefited from frugal one-man home-recording set-ups (Oneohtrix Point Never, Matthew Dear), stripped down line-ups (the Drums, Sleigh Bells, Matt & Kim) or simply embracing the idea that sounding mushy is smarter than buying new gear (Small Black).

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Premiere: Download "Acres of Skin," the Glittering, Skronking New Single From Brooklyn's Zs

Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.

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Brooklyn's Zs have always walked a jagged line between 21st Century composers and bratty art-punks; their voluminous, decade-strong output evokes everything from Schoenberg's jagged beep-boops to Glass's hypnotic minimalism to the headbanging abandon of crusty loft-party noiseniks. Despite having armloads of singles, EPs, and live albums, New Slaves (due May 11 on the Social Registry) is only their second proper record, and it moves the band fearlessly into more rhythmic, noisy, and downright terrifying waters. Anyone who's seen Zs recently knows they have abandoned their infamous music stands and sheet music. Instead, the band has transformed itself into a battering ram of brackish sound and befuddling rhythms--think of Steve Reich phasing experiments produced into a blackened soup by the Boredoms and you're getting close; think Black Dice performed by Sun Ra and you're getting closer. "Acres Of Skin" showcases the band's gnarly new feel, with saxophonist Sam Hillmer squonking out inhuman squeals, dual guitarists Annon Friedlin and Ben Greenberg (full disclosure, an old pal) creating a detuned, rhythmic ooze, and drummer Ian Antonio earnestly clapping and pounding along.

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