[Standard Issue sleeve]"Standard Issue " (Album, 2006)


Oregon based Gary Zon goes from strength to strength with this third album. Everything that we've seen up to now or has been hinted at so far comes to fruition on Standard Issue. The individual character that Zon possesses is becoming ever clearer. There's a self-belief that to the casual observer looks like arrogance, but to the scruitineer is simply a guy who is confident in himself and comfortable making up his own rules to play by rather than toe the line by following those of others.

I've never much been into the personalities behind the music that bands or even individuals choose to make, but every once in a while a genuinely distinctive voice emerges from all the noise and nonsense. Bryan Erikson of Velvet Acid Christ fame is the closest comparitor I can think of but not because the two are the same or that they make the same sort of music - not at all. But Dismanted as a project shares a great deal conceptually as VAC did - particularly in the early days. Erikson was happy to diss, by name, bands, peers, he thought were coasting through the electro scene and his self-confessed and open struggle with drugs and life in general (documented with brutal honesty in his self-penned album sleeve notes) was what made his music unique and full of personality. For different reasons Zon has taken over the mantle as the leading individual-led electro project.

On Standard Issue he takes digs (musically and lyrically) at the pseudo-elitist gothic-industrial scene - a characteristic of the genre that is undeniable if inexplicable especially these days when the global independent music movement as we know it faces extinction. Zon is less confrontational than Erikson because he has fewer demons and is less angry as a consequence, but the brave stance taking is readily evident. The album also continues Zon's fascination for all things 'pop', saracstically subverting the genre by simultaneously commenting on and occasionally even reflecting it. This can be recommended as much for concept as delivery. It is patchy in so far as the high standard set by the likes of Anthem, Breed to Death and Standard Issue isn't mantained throughout, but the attitude and relentless inventiveness earn extra credits as far as I'm concerned.

As the sleeve notes themselves say: "All lyrics by Gary Zon; All music by Gary Zon; Programming by Gary Zon; Concept by Gary Zon; Webdesign and Content by Gary Zon; Two Words: Gary Zon" - 'nuff said. Also released in a box version containing a five-track bonus disc, in a limited edition of 2,000 copies. 7/10

Rob Dyer (December 2007)

[Anthem sleeve]"Anthem" (Promo Single, 2006)


Promotional release aimed at securing club, gig and radio play for one of the Dependent label's most imaginative artists ahead of the release of Dismantled's third album. There are three versions of the title track but none surpass the subsequent album cut. The opener (with additional production by K. Wesenberg of Studio600) lacks anthemic chanting and is a touch flat in comparison with the album take. Rotersand's Stripped mix does what it says on the tin and serves up a lean but club focused version whose additional jabbing sequenced synths may be obvious but certainly do the trick. The Steps Remix sees Zon up to his playful tricks again serving up an 80s walking bassline mix that sounds like something that Steps themselves might have come up with if they were fans of New Order's Blue Monday. The March is very much secondary level filler material, whilst the instrumental version of Recall is less effective than the vocal counterpart on the album that followed. 6/10

Rob Dyer (December 2007)

[Breed To Death sleeve]"Breed To Death" (EP, 2005)


A fine ten track EP providing ample evidence of why Russian-born (but US resident) Gary Zon's Dismantled project continues to warrant close attention. Succesfully blending hard dance beats and a progressive industrial attitude that results in a genre that reflects various musical styles yet manages to convince in its own right.

The title track (appearing here in three quite different mixes) has a couple of lines: "And maybe you're impressed with everything I do, But I don't give a shit, I don't give a shit" which capture just what it is about Zon's confident approach that make him stand out. Thankfully, it's a confidence well placed too, and not arrogance. After all, it's not just anyone that can commission remix duties from two of the field's heavyweights: Haujobb and :Wumpscut:. The latter's substantial reworking of The Swarm is a real standout. Then there's the alarmingly believable cover of Paula Abdul's Straight Up (I kid you not).

With his second album Zon demonstrated he can do more than just imitate his heroes, with this EP he consolidates his position as one of the rising stars of the industrial field and one not afraid to risk a Paula Abdul cover either. Bold indeed. 7/10

Rob Dyer (October 2006)

[Post Nuclear sleeve]"Post Nuclear" (Album, 2004)


The relatively short period between the release of his debut album and this improved follow-up suggests that Gary Zon has plenty of ideas still to come. On the evidence presented here, those ideas are bigger than simply saluting those who have gone before him. What was homage on the first album to Front Line Assembly, here has broadened out to demonstrate that Zon has yet some interestingly individual ways of expressing his ideas.

There does seem to be a slight tension between what Zon thinks his audience wants rather that what Zon wants to do. But that could easily be a reflection of Zon's own tastes and desires. For me though, the less obviously 'industrial' tracks are the most interesting. Lyrics too are better than average, demonstrating a natural poetic touch that is rarely experienced in this genre.

The best of the album can be found in three successive tracks in the middle. The schizophrenic Had A Life with its irrepressibly infectious chorus and left-field piano motif suggest that even industrial could enter the pop charts and is easily one of the best tracks on the album. Cornered probably won't see much club play, but it is atmospheric and heartfelt despite the gravel voice delivery. While Exit expertly takes up the mid-tempo range and is another example of Zon's varied and unpredictable song structuring.

I hope that Zon is given the chance to really develop as an artist, because the remainder of Post Nuclear further hints that there's a lot more of interest still to come. This is a solid step up. Besides, anyone who includes Paula Abdul alongside the likes of Marilyn Manson, The Cure and Recoil as influences needs to be checked out at least once. 7/10

Rob Dyer (July 2004)

[Dismantled sleeve]"Dismantled" (Album, 2002)


In signing American Gary Zon to the German label, Dependent must have made a tactical judgement that Zon had ability beyond this impressive homage to his apparent heroes Front Line Assembly. Fortunately for all involved, listener included, this perception seems to be correct. Whilst this will never be more than a heavily influenced debut, it does hint at a much broader ability that could see Zon develop into one of the modern industrial scene's players.

Of course, releasing something that sounds a lot (and we're talking A LOT) like genre leaders FLA, is a relatively safe thing to do in its own right in commercial terms. Just look at the plethora of Goth bands that followed the blueprint laid down by The Sisters Of Mercy in the early 80s. Some of them got half-decent careers out of nothing but imitation. But it is to do a disservice to Zon (and Dependent) to merely write this off as the greatest form of flattery. Musically, Zon is still young, but which of us can say we didn't reflect our influences in our youth? 6/10

Rob Dyer (April 2004)

Official Dismantled website: http://www.dismantled.org