What does Nick Zinner sound like?
Where rock meets classical and together, they ride.
The review of Nick Zinner – 41 Strings
Nick Zinner, guitarist and keyboardist for Yeah Yeah Yeahs, has struck out his own with a fantastic concept piece originally commissioned for Earth Day. Originally performed in 2011, it is a large-scale bombastic orchestral rock symphony. The four-track suite, one track for each season, has only been performed live four times and with an expanded arrangement, “41 Strings” encompasses that “as live” feel through empathic arrangements and excellent recording.
Each track has its own distinct feel and character, just as each season does. “Fall” opens the release like a cascading of leaves. String sections bustle and unfurl like a waterfall of orange and browns in your ears. Backed by a stern and militant stadium drum kit and weighty guitar chugs, there is a sense of aggressive reflection and retrospection. “Winter” backs this up with a more sweeping string arrangement that stirs up emotions before it hits a symphonic majesty around the three-minute mark. In comes the drums and later on a chorus of electric guitars that evoke a brass and wind section by how they are played. Nick Zinner wanted the album to feel like a true fusion of classical and rock and the 41 strings that are being played reflect that. The instrumentation consists of violins, violas, cellos, double basses, eight electric guitars, two synthesizers, two electric bassists and three drummers. That allows Nick to make some very creative arrangements where guitars, drums, bass and synth back up or override the strings.
After two absolutely gorgeous tracks that feel like a violent Icelandic orchestra balancing melancholy and freedom, we have the absolutely electric “Spring”. This seven-minute piece is guitars and synths first and begins with all those drummers, bassists, synths and guitarists sparking into life. It’s like a rumble from the depth of the planet that gathers momentum and then breaks out into a riotous symphonic rock anthem. Think Sigur Ros and Muse having a love child and it’s grown up with Bjork’s “Homogenic” album and you’ll be in the ballpark. It is one of the most explosively alive pieces of music I’ve heard in the last couple of years. Nick Zinner then closes out with “Summer” returns with a more uplifting rendition of the cascades of “Fall” and “Winter” but this time they are guitar-led, not string-led. There’s also a chirpy return back up the notes again as if to musically signal hope and renewed life. The whole EP has a cyclic feel to it and “Summer” is the most indie-rock anthem styled of the lot. Big riffs, huge drums, string swells and a lot of bold lyrical emotion pouring out of every note.
“41 Strings” sounds absolutely huge. The power of 41 strings all forging their classical rock power together, often in unity, really shines on this recording. This is an absolutely beautiful album that invigorates and motivates the listener because the energy is so intoxicating and full of abundance. Nick Zinner has crafted a magical symphony.
Recommended track: Winter
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