A wandering prophet of industrial percussion, Z'EV has dabbled in more than music.
Part of the same industrial scene as Throbbing Gristle and NON, Z'EV was performing percussive pieces with found (and stolen) objects long before Stomp; he also had an intense interest in Kabbalah back when Madonna was still a virgin. His world travels brought him in touch with voodoo and West African black magic, and he's studied ethnomusicology and comparative religion. In fact, one might say that "music" is one of the last things Z'EV is interested in.
Born Stefan Weisser, in Los Angeles, the performer first dabbled in concrete poetry. Upon arriving in San Francisco in the late 1960s, he was unable to connect with the City Lights poetry scene; in the early '70s, his poetry developed both visual and sound aspects, and he created a number of aliases and stage personas. The stage was set for Z'EV.
Despite a command of numerous languages and an acute interest in politics, Z'EV chooses to make percussive performance his main mode of communication. On stage, Z'EV was known initially for a dangerous show involving found metal objects; the performer had little regard for audience safety or his own. After a certain amount of negative attention, he toned down the show so the publicity wouldn't overshadow his art.
His improvised pieces are as visual as they are auditory, and create a theater-like experience for the audience. His current tour sees him traveling alongside fellow industrial nomads Sikhara. They appear at the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium Mon., May 28, in a show sponsored by Pitt's Music on the Edge organization.
Z'EV with Sikhara, Michael Johnsen, Margaret Cox and Steve Boyle. 8 p.m. Mon., May 28. Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, University of Pittsburgh campus, Oakland. $10 ($15 at the door). 412-361-2262