Will Z. is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, first known for his work with his band Cosmic Trip Machine, then The Book of AM 'cult' project. A solo artist he has explored several genres, from dark occult rock and hard rock to acid-folk and baroque pop, incorporating Indian music and experimental elements.
In 2011, Will Z. was immersed in The Book of AM which he co-produced with Juan Arkotxa and Leslie MacKenzie. He discovered it was the kind of music he wanted to play, and recorded his first improvised meditation opus called Shambhala released in July 2012
He then began work at NoHype Studio on an album called 12 Visions, inspired by the island of Mallorca, The twelve philosophical keys, a book by Basil Valentine (allegedly an alchemist monk), using the Brian Wilson Smile method to recorded different parts which he layered to create a final track. 12 Visions was released in December 2013 and featured Juan Arkotxa from Book of AM on flute.
New Start began in 2012 when Will Z. helped Juan Arkotxa, Leslie MacKenzie and Carmeta to finish The Book of AM, a unique combination of recordings and artwork which has since gained ‘cult’ status. After the release of The Book of AM, Juan Arkotxa and Leslie MacKenzie asked Will Z. to work on the sequel of their project, called The Book of Intxixu, with Daevid Allen. The leader from Gong organized a reunion in Glasgow during the last Gong tour and started collaborating with the AM team. Working with such talented musicians was a great privilege that inspired Will Z. to compose New Start, an album inspired by Jain philosophy, to celebrate the birth of his son and to pay homage to these great artists with whom he’d collaborated.
New Start takes the listener on a beautiful, cosmic journey of discovery. Its rich textures and haunting melodies are evocative, meditative and timeless. This warm, sensual album will wrap you in its sonic embrace and touch your soul. It’s a total trip, a rather floaty, psychedelic mind ride that will expand your mind in mystical, psychedelic ways you’re never previously experienced. New Start will be the last time you’ll hear this great team of psych and folk musicians working together on new and original music.
WILL Z. New Start
Kim Harten:Bliss Aquamarine
It doesn't seem all that long since the last Will Z. album, but now this prolific artist is back with a brand new album of forward-looking, inventive psychedelic music that incorporates influences from diverse genres. Jain Devotion is a multipart piece divided into two long tracks which bookend the album. It's a mellow sound that encompasses spacey electronic music, experimental, ambient, psych-folk, flowing and laid-back psych-rock, and Eastern influences. Namo incorporates a driving bass groove into a meditative piece featuring ethereal choral-style vocal harmonies and sitar. Evil Namo is eerie ambient experimental spacerock; the soundtrack to a warped nightmare. It features a guest appearance from Gong founder Daevid Allen, who sadly passed away before the album's release. Nefle is the heaviest track here, in which psych-rock riffage is adorned with spacey atmospheric sound effects. Available on limited edition white vinyl LP or CD as of 8th June.
WILL Z. New Start
Duncan Fletcher : Harmonic Distortion
Inspired by Jain philosophy, Will Z.'s new album is one to immerse yourself in. A meditative spiritual journey unlike anything else you'll hear all year.
He may have the last name in the phone book but who is Will Z.? The answer is he's a singer, songwriter and multi instrumentalist who first came to prominence as a member of Cosmic Trip Machine. His solo output has all had a similarly exploratory psychedelic bent, be it dark rock, folk or psych-pop. More recently his involvement with The Book Of Am project and work with Gong main man Daevid Allen (RIP), has lead him towards music of a more introspective, meditative nature. His latest outing is New Start, a serious though highly enjoyable and rewarding work inspired by Jain philosophy.
The album length release is broken down into six pieces, with each track based around a simple repeated musical phrase or motif which is then added to and embellished. With an emphasis on spirituality, philosophy and self improvement, the results are as meditative as the mandala on the record's sleeve. As the title infers there's something cleansing about this music, encouraging a dumping of previous methods and baggage, and replacing with a fresh approach, blank slate or beginner's mind.
Jain Devotion (Parts I – III) starts with a swampy, dense sound reminiscent of being in the deep rainforest. Eventually some electronic sound claw through the sonic swamp - morse, radar, and radio waves merging to find a harmonious drone. From this a slow mantra-like song builds, implying the beginning of a journey. And indeed it is, over the course of the album we're treated a delicious array of textures and musical pairings. From sitar and flute, oud and mellotron, to more familiar electric piano and bass. The overall effect is hypnotic, entrancing and nourishing. And best listened to in one devotional sitting. Turn off your phone, relax and float downstream indeed!
WILL Z. New Start
My first acquaintance with Belgian musician Will Z. was through his previous band, Cosmic Trip Machine, who played a 60s/70s influenced brand of heavy Prog-Psych. On his latest album, New Start, Will plays acoustic and electric guitars, sitar, bass, piano, keyboards, synths, Mellotron, percussion and vocals, with guests on percussion, flutes, oud, vocals, and the late great Daevid Allen contributes gliss guitar to one track.
Inspired by Jain philosophy, New Start is an almost non-stop exploration from start to finish. The set opens with the 13 minute Jain Devotion (Parts I-III). After a few minutes of freaky noodling effects, a lazily grooving and nicely melodic Psychedelic tune begins, with sparse tribal percussion, flute, and spacey keys. When the vocals kick in it’s got a beautiful trippy 60s feel, though it’s also embellished with strange soundscapes and staticy drones, as well punchy spaced out synth lines. This melts seamlessly into Namo, which quickly shifts to a more energetic pace, propelled by concert piano and bass and led by choral chanting and spoken word vocals. It’s darkly trippy and the searing sitar wave cuts through the proceedings like a mild acid burn. When the music bleeds into Evil Namo we find ourselves in a firestorm of orchestral madness, with anguished howls, crashing percussion, wind tunnel drones, and general fire and brimstone chaos. For the first time things actually come to a momentary halt and then Greek Loop starts fresh, starting off with a Psychedelic Oriental theme. But it quickly transitions to a chaotic spaced out effects melee that preps things for the rhythmic Nefle, which combines wildly wah’d fuzz licks, pulsating and totally tripped out alien synth waves and ghostly effects, and carried along by a hypnotically thrumming bass groove. Wrapping up the set is the 11 minute Jain Devotion (Parts IV-V), which returns to the seductively Psychedelic album opening theme, though we’re now far deeper in exploratory space, with the music tripping along into a Psychedelic dreamland that is part acoustic, part orchestral, and with an edgy acidic sear. It eventually settles into a jam that powerfully recalls early Amon Düül II at their most freeform and spaced out. VERY intense and my favorite track of the set.
In summary, there’s a lot going on here. The album as a whole is quite a journey with all kinds of thematic twists and turns and really has to be heard in its entirety to be appreciated. The opening and closing Jain Devotion tracks hold their own as stand alones but the shorter tracks they bookend really need the strung together sum total to make sense.
Will Z. 'New Start'
March 16 2015 Dave Thompson Goldmine magazine
A name, if you know it, drawn from the annals of the Cosmic Trip Machine; and then, alone, via The Book of AM, Will Z returns with an album that may or may not be aptly titled, but which was surely cut in the shadow of the Third Ear Band – and it’s about time someone acknowledged how wonderful they were.
Leaning heavily into the spaced out pastures that too few modern psychedelic warlords delve into for any length of time, New Start is ignited by a thirteen minute meditation, the first three-parts of “Jain Devotion” – all swirling, sensual passages of melody, building and rebuilding around a soft mantric rhythm into which Will’s barely-louder-than-breathing vocals weave with haunted determination.
Later in the set, three concluding parts wrap up the journey with equal guile and weightlessness… Tim Blake’s New Jerusalem album comes vaguely to mind as you contemplate the overall mood of things – especially now, as we mourn the passing of David Allen, the man who binds Blake and Z together, via their work together on The Book of Intxixu.
In between times, meanwhile, “Namo” and its “Evil Namo” corollary, the mystifying “Greek Loop” and the pulsating blur of “Nefle” all push New Start towards a whole new beginning, rising tides of resonance and remembrance that echo so much, but sail their own seas entirely.
David Hintz: Dr Rock Live Reviews
I am quite happy that this outstanding musician found me, based on some uploads of Book of AM material I did. On his last album he played with some of the musicians of that phenomenal album and the results were brilliant. It is easy to be fans of psychedelic folk music of the 1960s and 1970s, but from what I have seen, few people do it justice today. Will Z is one of those that does by creating magical musical landscapes that are melodic and mysterious. Although this music is highly meditative, it is also adventurous with an inner strength that is needed to take it to such a high level. I like how he broke up the five parts of ‘Jain Devotion’ into the front and ending songs, reminding me of one of the better Pink Floyd albums, ‘Wish You Were Here’. If there is any justice, music like this should find it’s way to Floyd fans, as long as they like Algarnas Tradgard, early Tangerine Dream, Igra Staklenih Perli, and Can am des Puig (Book of AM). And this is yet one more reason I should be living in Belgium, as the music scene there is every bit as good as the soccer these days. Oh, and as a bonus, this has Daevid Allen playing some guitar in what will be one of the last releases of his long and amazing career.
The Strange Brew Podcast
Review by Jason Barnard
Mega Dodo have releasing some excellent material – principally in the pop-psych mold – like The Honey Pot and Octopus Syng. This new album with multi-instrumentalist Will Z sees the label branching into prog-rock. Whilst I’m not the world’s biggest prog fan, ‘New Start’ is rather lovely in places.
Opener Jain Devotion is a melodic, languid delight accented by flute and synth with gentle lyrics. ‘Namo’ comes straight out of the Mike Oldfield, Tubular-Ommadawn playbook but feels new rather than a retread of previous work.
‘Greek Loop’ is in turns beautiful and eerie. The final sections of ‘Jain Devotion’ rounds off the album fittingly adding some electric guitar flourishes.
So given my tastes if you have even a passing interest in the proggier side of things, this is definitely worth exploring.
Review: Psychedelic Progressive Rock
After Will Z., one of the founders of the Belgian band Cosmic Trip Machine, finished co-productioning of "The Book Of Am" with Juan Arkotxa and Leslie MacKenzie, he decided he wanted to record something similar for his new solo project. He composed a song a day for one month which lead to the title "Daily Visions" his new solo album. At the same time, he read the book The Twelve Philosophical Keys Basil Valentine. When it was time to record his demos, he borrowed from Basil Valentine's book and decided to call the album "12 Visions".
The first session took place on November 3 2011,and resulted in 3 demos being record in the first day. In 2012, Will went to Majorca, where he previously worked with Juan and Leslie and wrote a few more songs for his project. Later that year, he read a book about Satanism, making his music a lot darker and the song "Hermetic Spell", which he recorded with his band Cosmic Trip Machine for his solo album.
After hearing the music of English folk band The Trees ("The Garden of Jane Delawney", 1970 and "On The Shore", 1970) and singer Judee Sill, he decided to begin writing music in that style. He released his first solo album "Shambhala" in 2012, and followed it in 2013 with "12 Visions", then in 2014, he released his album "Dark Tales Of".
After the release of "The Book Of Am", he worked with Juan Arkotxa and Leslie MacKenzie on the the follow-up album "The Book of Intxixu", with Daevid Allen, the founder of Gong.
Working with such talented musicians was a privilege for Will and that inspired him to compose "New Start", an album inspired by the Jain philosophy, the birth of his son and to honour this great artists with whom he had worked.
"New Start" contains 6 songs, of which "Jain Devotion (Parts I-III)" is the first and I get, after a psychedelic cosmic beginning, to hear a meditative Eastern oriented number, which Will brings into a light trance. (listen to this song through the bandcamp link under the review) "Namo" is a nice danceable number accompanied by a catchy hypnotic rhythm, forcing me deeper under the spell of the music touch. This is followed by "Evil Namo" and it takes me into the madness of a bad Psychedelic trip, after which he continues with "Greek Loop", in which I a slow hypnotic psychedelic number which returns the listener to reality and this gets a further sequel in "Nefle", a hypnotic song with quite vehement guitar work and space rock influences. The last piece of music is called "Jain Devotion (Parts IV-V)" and it's a lovely progressive rock song that swings slowly to the climax.
Will Z. has, with "New Start", in my opinion, produced his best album to date and I can recommend it to any lover of both progressive and psychedelic music highly enough. Check out this fantastic trip and experience what it's like to be reborn and emerge with a New Start.
New Start from Will Z. Of Cosmic Trip Machine is an exquisite ode to cosmichue music, in groups like Ash Ra Temple and Brainticket etc. A space/ambient redemptive pandemonium. The six tracks on the album make a dream state, flowing, gently sneak inside us and lead us directly to distant galaxies. The exquisite folk electricity of jain devotion (parts i-iii) the bad trip of evil namo, the psych-prog masterpiece nefle, the space greatness jain devotion (parts iv-v), it is simply necessary for the proper operation of our soul!! Listen with headphones and with loud volume!!
The Sunday Experience Blog
And so back with Mega Dodo as loosely promised, imminent on the labels release schedule is what promises to be a full on cosmic and spiritual head trip entitled ‘new start’ by Wil Z. Lushly packaged in an eye catching gatefold sleeve housing limited slabs of heavy duty white vinyl – 250 in total – ‘new start’ finds this most extraordinary talent returning to the fray following acclaimed appearances in the cosmic trip machine and 70’s psychedelic hippies the book of AM. Featuring some of the last recordings committed to wax by the recently departed Daevid Allen and inspired by the philosophies of Jain, this 6 track suite dreamily navigates upon an astral arc lushly guided by a woozy trance toned blissfully hazed meditative grooving that’s lulled and teased in bonged out late 60’s / early 70’s flashbacks all dinked in cosmic florals and the kind of far out dialects more commonly found on trippier outposts of the Elektra and Brain imprints. ‘namo’ featured here as one of three teaser listening offerings is perhaps the most earthbound track of the trio though is still glazed in enough mellowing wooziness and ghost light folk incantations to have you dreamily closing your eyes and opening your mind in preparation for the trip ahead – totally zonked out.
iO Pages #130 (July 2015)
New Start, a mainly cosmic and trippy instrumental album by Will Z., is available in limited digipack and vinyl editions. The LP has a neat length of 42 minutes. You maybe know Will Z. due to Cosmic Trip Machine and The Book of AM project. The latter concept has achieved a certain cult status and brought the Belgian multi-instrumentalist in touch with the flutist Juan Arkotxa and the percussionist Leslie MacKenzie. The most known guest artist on this work based on Jain philosophy, an ancient religion from India, is, however, Daevid Allen from Gong. It must be one of the last slide guitar recordings of the man, deceased in March this year. He can be heard on piece Evil Namo; indeed a not too pleasant sounding piece music with sharp guitar sounds. It breaks the reasonably calm cadence of a kind of oriental Mike Oldfield (the first part). The opening is a soft ambiance with sound effects, wordless singing, bells, flutes, and trance-inducing, spacey ryhthms. Nefle sounds more rock with bass, brushes, cymbals and distorted guitars, but that long slides
accommodating weather road to the fourth and fifth sections of the piece Jain Devotion. In this last part, Will Z. successfully summarizes his psychedelic sound. This album has the power to drag you to a discovery of your inside.
Soundblab Jeff Penczak
Belgian cosmic head-tripper Will Z may be familiar to you via his work with Canadian cult acid-folkies Can Am Des Puig in the recording of 'Parts III and IV: Afternoon & Evening', the sequel to their classic acid-folk masterpiece The Book of AM. His own work has more of a dark, occulty vibe (think Current 93), although this album, which features one of Daevid Allen’s final recordings (guitar on ‘Evil Namo’) does capture some of the religious, devotional feel of The Book of AM. Much of this was inspired by Z’s interest in Jainism, which is expressed across the epic, five-part ‘Jain Devotion’, whose 25 minutes bookend the album.
Sitars, flutes, synth, percussives, and lutes intermingle to create a reflective, navel-gazing mood not unlike the spiritual journeys of Popul Vuh or Japanese New Age maestro, Kitaro. Repetitive, hypnotic melodies warm the spine, allowing your third eye to lift you into self-reflective moods.
Z has a smooth, relaxing voice (similar to Stone Breath’s Timothy Renner) which perfectly suits his musical moods, whether it be the lengthy devotional or the jazzier, piano piece, ‘Namo’. However, don’t confuse it with the rather pretentious ‘Evil Namo’, which is mostly sound effects, horror house noises and evil grunting. It might have worked on the soundtrack to The Blair Witch Project, but sadly, not here. However, I did enjoy the eerie, wordless female vocals on the short ‘Greek Loop’.
Some of this may grate on the nerves if you’re not in the proper frame of mind (‘Nefle’, for example, consists of nothing more than a heavily-treated guitar solo that verges on Framptonesque wankery), but the devotionals will sooth the muscles and relieve the day’s tensions as they accommodate your own personal introspections.
Reviewed by Let It Rock
Delicately spiritual trip from Belgian dream master with Pot Head Pixie on hand.
Caught in the circle of the BOOK OF AM project and inspired by Jainism and the birth of his son, Will Z. finds an envious levity at this stage of his life. Elevated enough to open a new page of it without adhering to ascesis the religion prescribes, the multi-instrumentalist infuses “New Start” with a delicate opulence which laps around your ears in “Jain Devotion” that bookends the song cycle and rises from there to a higher ground. Tinged with musique concrète of cosmic kind and tightening acoustic strum into a raga-kissed twang where flute and tentative riffs lurk, the five-part epic calls to “take reality as it is” and turns hypnotic even before soft vocals add weight to its misty vibration.
Amplitude amped, a stately piano shatters “Namo” to create a psych hymn on the bass bedrock, while “Evil Namo” negates the harmony and gets ironed with Daevid Allen’s glissando licks. Yet the overall drift isn’t spaced-out here, and though guitar cuts up the Indian percussion of “Nefle” to create tension, “Greek Loop” thrives on crystal sonics and distant slivers of female voice – like a nebula being shaped for a palpable perception. The pieces are pregnant with Big Boom here, giving the album’s title a fresh slant but, despite the finale’s rise in loudness, it’s an inner universe that’s rebooted with these grooves. A mind-blowing experience.
Reviewed by House of Prog
Belgian artist WILL Z. is a composer and musician that appeared just shy of a decade ago as a member of psychedelic rock band Cosmic Trip Machine. In the last few years he have focused more on solo albums than band releases as such, with a handful or so released the last few years. “New Start” dates back to 2015, and was released through UK label Mega Dodo Records.
As one might imagine with an artist that started out exploring psychedelic rock, Will Z. as a solo artist continues making excursions into landscapes of a more trip-oriented nature. The canvas he explore is a fairly broad one at that too, but where the common denominator is a focus on sounds and atmospheres of the vintage variety. “New Start” is a production that may as well have been recorded in the 1970’s on just about all levels. Up to and including the mix and production that appears just as retro-oriented as the music.
The first half of this album is the one that struck me the most. Jain Devotion I-III explores a striking pastoral variety of psychedelic and cosmic landscapes, with occasional keyboard arrangements that reminded me ever so slightly of German band Eloy somewhere around their “Ocean”-era. Second track Namo features a bass-line and some vocal arrangements that also have tendencies in the same direction, as well as a certain mood and atmosphere that emphasized that thought, but explored in more of a psychedelic manner. The concluding cut on side A, Evil Namo, is a much more chaotic affair, mostly void of common harmonies, and is perhaps best described as a menacing freakout pulled from someone’s nightmare.
The B-side of this album comes across as a slightly different beast altogether. The three cuts here are all more repetitive throughout, with sharper edges and more dramatic details, a stronger focus on dominant vintage psychedelic instrument details, and by and large strikes me as material that isn’t light years away from the classic German krautrock bands of the 1970’s. The concluding epic Jain Devotion IV-V does open in more of a pastoral manner admittedly, but does develop towards a more stark expression along the way.
Vintage era psychedelic rock is the calling card for this album as a whole. It does feature pastoral and folk music elements as well as arrangements that occasionally does include symphonic-oriented ones, but cosmic vibes and early 70’s psychedelic rock and krautrock are the defining traits of this production as I experience it. An album that merits a check by those who love and treasure vintage era psychedelic rock.
House of Prog rating: 70/100