'Zubotta' by Natalie Shahanian
Issue 28 summer/2005

Song three of Jesse Zubot's album, Zubotta, is entitled 'The Box'. It's probably the best single on the CD, with a perfect balance of random sound bites, electronic beats, violin strumming and taken the diva sample that among the radio listeners and club kids inevitably make a track a hit. It works, because it's making is harder to recognize than some of the other singles on the CD. In March, the New York Times had an article featuring various artists who "performed, produced and engineered" out of their home studio. One artist, rapper Aesop Rock, admitted that not only did Pro Tools (software that simulates a multitrack studio) save him money while being user-friendly, it also allowed him to be creative in his own time, silly or serious, night or day. Zubotta seems to come out of the inevitable home studio experience Rock and other musicians describe: years to make, strange and solemn, and if you're not careful, a library of unreleased (and unfinished?) material that is more bad than good. What separates Zubotta from a lot of the Aphex Twin/Matmos-like electronica out there is his violin playing. When strings dominate the samples, a sense of music is created rather than sound. Zubot acts more like a musician and less like an engineer. You get more killer songs like Haloid and Health Grenade than filler and really get to feel how much it rocks. Don't get me wrong. There's nothing bad about sound. But sound is all you get when you're thinking inside the box.