This is a review of "Untitled" recorded by Divided by Zero. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2001.
Divided by Zero's new 4 song CD has the angelic whine of Mansun and the fresh innocence of a local band. It has all the qualities - good and awful - that make the live music scene exciting, crazy and frustrating. The genius second guitar part that locks into bar five of "Empty Space" (it's always bar five on demos) at the top of the CD tells us that Divided by Zero boys are still finding fist-sized nuggets in that six note harmony mine that is Guitar Canyon. The way-too-loud, one-listen-and-you're-already-annoyed-to-death telephone ring at the start of song four is a punishable offence against the best song on the CD. (And "I'm here" is a very good song)
At one level the whole thing is really messy. The CD I got has no title, there's no picture; there's no band info. The track listing is in scruffy biro and there's a hand-glued white label stuck over the CD-R with a bit more biro to tell you who it's by. In 'Leisure' at track 2 there's a bog standard string synth part that stops dead at the end (4 minutes 3 seconds) as if the engineer had shot the imaginary fiddler in mid bow. Never mind letting a graceful decay fade right out. There are some vocal bits sung right up in the nose, and sometimes they're off the note by an uncomfortable margin. There's the telephone. If we are talking supermarkets, we're in Netto. So expect some delights and make your purchases carefully.
But this is missing the point. The boys have real heart, they have a message to deliver and there's at least one great voice in there. They're having loads of fun and heartache (bucket loads of heartache) and they play it straight back to us. This is not music for the old git's fine expensive stereo, and it's not for Sheffield arena. This is music for Thursday night in a sweaty pub with an eye on the local talent. It's music for the serious delight of the fierce young man on the bus to nowhere in particular, with a band of moody mates as inspiring company. Wind it up it far too loud for your headphones and go ANNOY somebody tedious right now. The mood doesn't change. It's anguish all the way. That angelic whine does not cheer up, and why should it? Life, as they say, is a piece of shit.
Print this review out, mark the bits you like in bright green highlighter and bin the rest. There's a lot of music in Divided by Zero and there are some great moments on this CD. Once that bloody phone stops "I'm here" is a great little sub-Sparklehorse mission into the dark places of the soul. The acoustic guitar gives some beautiful texture as the song develops and the electronic percussion works a treat.
Get this one back into lab DBZ, analyse it and do some more of it. Stuff Mansun. (Or whoever it is you're listening to) Make your own noise.