SummaryNo independent label of the post-punk era exemplified the convergence of widely divergent orbits of downtown New York's art and music scenes like ZE Records. Founded in 1978 by Oxford-educated scholar Michael Zilkha and French punk shop proprietor Michel Esteban, ZE's roster, a stark contrast to the then growingly conservative punk scene, was distinguished by its playful eclecticism and genre miscegenation. Listening to ZE 30 ZE RECORDS STORY 1979 - 2009, Strut's cherry-picked overview of the polymorphous ZE sound, one can trace the label's path as spiritual progenitors of '80s New Wave. ZE's cheeky embrace of commercial elements--particularly their assimilation of the recently declared-dead disco genre--while still adhering to a defiantly anti-commercial agenda, certainly makes the case for their being one of the first post-modern music labels. Academic musings aside, it's the music that counts--and ZE released some of the weirdest, most memorable club music of the time. Music that holds up as some of the best examples of post-disco and proto-house ever produced. From the frenetic, punk-funk of James Chance's Contortions ("Roving Eye") to the calypso-flavored disco of Kid Creole & the Coconuts ("Something Wrong in Paradise") to Material's electro-jazz-rock fusions ("Bustin' Out"), on through to the rockabilly and funk appropriations Alan Vega and Was (Not Was), there really wasn't, or ever will be, another label quite like it.
Over thirty years on and Ze remains one of the great cult labels of its time. With this new compilation, Strut takes a snapshot of the many weird andn wonderful fusions that surfaced on its famous NYC cab-influenced yellow and black label. Highlights include one of the earliers outings by Was (Not Was), Bob Blank's shortlived disco supergroup Aural Exciters and a LArry Levan mix of Kid Creole's biting parable about corruption in the CAribbean. Other featured artists incvllude Ze label regulars Cristina, Bill Laswell's Material, Lizzy Mercier Desclouz, and Les Garcons.