No 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.
Spin (p.91) - "A roadmap for groups like Yeah Yeah Yeahs and LCD Soundsystem, Ze was America's version of Factory Records, a place where art and dance met."
Pitchfork (Website) - "The selections here do support Ze's reputation. They illustrate, in bullet points, not only what made the label special, but what made them influential to artists like Chromatics, LCD Soundsystem, even M.I.A...."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.99) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "It's something of a danceable set of tracks....Casino Music's take on `The Beat Goes On' is excellent..."
Tell Me That I'm Dreaming - Was (Not Was) (Traditional 12" Remix, remix)
Deputy of Love - Don Armando's Second Avenue Rhumba Band
Things Fall Apart - Cristina
Hard-Boiled Babe - Lizzy Mercier Descloux
Jukebox Babe - Alan Vega
Beat Goes On, The - Casino Music
Roving Eye - James Chance & The Contortions
Something Wrong in Paradise - Kid Creole & the Coconuts (Remix, remix)