Articles / Reviews

Above Photo: © 2015 Brian McMillen


2016-01-05 zBug: Splitting Glass / Twilight Sunrise [Buy Album]

by Tyran Grillo

The sacred geometry of zBug is no small thing. So enormous, in fact, that it’s invisible. It’s in service of just such a contradiction–which really isn’t one–that the band pushes sound-walls to the very edges of the third dimension. The brainchild of David Leikam, zBug has a piecemeal history. While getting his MFA in the composer-performer program at CalArts, where he studied under the legendary Wadada Leo Smith, Leikam met drummer Zachary Morris, with whom an early incarnation of the …

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2011-01-09 zBug: Drifting Moon Peaks

by San Francisco Chronicle

“Drifting Moon Peaks” by zBug is the group’s latest industrial jazz composition in five movements. The San Francisco jazz group draws inspiration from John Coltrane, cEvin Key, Cecil Taylor and Throbbing Gristle, with ambient psychedelic elements akin to Robert Rich and Pink Floyd. The group includes two drummers, Moog synthesizer, electric bass, modular synthesizer, acoustic piano and electro-beats. $5-$10. 8 p.m. Sat. Meridian Gallery, 535 Powell St., San Francisco. (415) 398-7229, www.meridiangallery.org.

This article appeared on page Q – 10 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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2010-07-01 David Leikam: Duets: A State of I [Buy Album]

by Brick, KZSU 90.1FM, Stanford University

David Leikam’s spectacular brand of free jazz is paired with five exceptional jazz musician’s. Gorgeous tones, delicate vocal touches, piano flourishes, and a structure that showcases both musicians. Great space jazz, neo noir, future free music, duets, etc.

  1. Molten Piano notes & Shrill Noctural Muted Trumpet Noir. A wandering through a dark alleyway that turns into a chase & resolves itself by filling in the sonic space.
  2. Thick outer-space noise-scape, alien sounds w/ piano accompaniment find a beautiful woman’s voice.
  3. Drones, rattling, ghostplaying, thick tones, big cyling engine sounds drilling through the crust, dizzying synth brain melter, long form piece.
  4. Crunchy electronics give way to heavenly rising & falling pattern, fake seagull sounds, really cool short experimental piece.
  5. Excellent trumpet playing at the extreme ends of the instrument’s range & punctuated with piano.

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2010-03-02 z_Bug: 3, 2, 1 … Live! [Buy Album]

by Red West, KZSU 90.1FM, Stanford University

Noise ensemble (led by our own illustrious D. Bug), acoustic percussion improv, electronics and hard-to-qualify synth.

  1. Low Theremin-like buzz, squeaky metal, harsh warbles. Gets pretty intense. Radio-friendly length.
  2. Fast drumming, dark. Gets melodic in a NY art-metal way by the end.
  3. Begins quietly with jangling keys, brushed drums. Then the drums get hit squarely but not consistently. Bursty and jittery staccato sounds.

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2010-01 zBug: Passings of A Window Sil [Buy Album]

by Turkmenistani State Radio, KZSU 90.1FM, Stanford University

“Killer, structured psychedelic free Noise jazz from a legend around these parts. Odd twisting strings, samples, electronics, and tight percussion concocted into a delightful suppository to be used liberally. For fans of great radio.”

  1. Atmospheres and sonic hallucination with great percussion. Starts with moaning bending engine tone and belly dancer bell twinkling and some panting animal that would bite you. Tones and vague samples bending in and out, menacing gurgles and motors give way to sonic laser beams dueling with drums.
  2. Wasteland future jazz noir. Tense warped strings over swanky rim shot and hi-hat work. Oh yeah.
  3. Disoriented plucked thing and vague breathing/speaking noises. I feel lost, dizzy, and awake too long on sleeping pills wandering through this soundscape.
  4. Upbeat, starts with some killer drumming, and gives way to a squeak solo. This one really grooves, and fries my neurons. Somewhere in this groove, a cop siren busts it up, and the violin smokes crack. “Whoa-hoa… What a trip that was!?”
  5. Stacked, menacing, tense noise structure. Play this one at the disco!
  6. Beings with slurp, static, and cymbals then progresses to give my teeth a filling with power electronics. The structure and jazz elements reveal themselves halfway through the song and the slurpy tone carries an extraterrestrial melody to the end as the drums dissolve.

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2010-01 zBug: 3, 2, 1 … Live! [Buy Album]

by Red West, KZSU 90.1FM, Stanford University

“Noise ensemble led by our own illustrious David Leikam, acoustic percussion improvisation, electronics, and hard-to-qualify [industrial jazz] synthesizer.

  1. Low Theremin-like buzz, squeaky metal, harsh warbles. Gets pretty intense. Radio-friendly length.
  2. Fast drumming, dark. Gets melodic in a NY art-metal way by the end.
  3. Begins quietly with jangling keys, brushed drums. Then the drums get hit squarely … bursty and jittery staccato sounds.

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2009.08.29 z_Bug at the 2009 Transbay Skronkathon Festival

by Amar Chaudhary, CatSynth

We switched from ambient electronic music to skronking … with an improvisational set by zBug with David Leikam, Zachary Morris, Sheila Bosco and Craig Latta. There were lots of fast … hard hitting notes, with the bass acting as a third drum. (zBug has two drum sets in the group.) David … played his Moog synth. Although the set was loud at times, there was really a good range with sudden drops in volume where one could hear bells and chimes. I liked the sudden switch during the performance to a steady disco beat.

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2009-09-17 z_Bug At The Flux 53 Theater In Oakland

by Bill Leikam

“An Intimate Evening with z_Bug” filled Oakland’s Flux 53 Theater with eloquent textures of sound, sometimes hypnotic, sometimes sonorous as though rising from the depths of a volcano and sometimes teetering just on the edge of silent space.

z_Bug, creator of this edgy group, took up his analog Moog synthesizer and electric bass along with Zachary Morris on drums and percussion, Sean Price on modular synthesizer and …

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2008-12-18 David Leikam: Dance Clippings Volume 1 [Buy Album]

by Miss Piggy, KZSU 90.1FM, Stanford University

We all know David as the Super-DJ who always helps out around KZSU, but it’s also important to know that David is an accomplished musician, composer, and producer too. THis CD is not a formulaic electronica/dance CD. Instead it’s a reflection of David’s artistry and imagination. They’re mostly short tracks but they range from sound collages to abstract ambient to industrial and techno. I especially liked #3,4, and 6.

  1. Ambient tones punctuated by crashes of staticky beats.
  2. Synth washes, panning left & right, with occasional clusters of noisy beats.
  3. Soft & slow piano notes with washes of static & electronic effects.
  4. Audio collage piece w/ car crashes & motor noises.
  5. Grinding noisy guitars, heavy beats & distortions. Has a goth/industrial feel to it.
  6. Abstract Techno – one could call it “IDM” but I think that doesn’t do this track justice.
  7. A slightly longer & different version of #1 – but somehow spookier

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2008-08-20 z_Bug: 3, 2, 1 … Live! / Tippo: Mopus . 1 . . 2 . . . 3

by Your Imaginary Friend, KZSU 90.1FM, Stanford University

Live experimental, avante with an improv feel mostly. Free jazz drum stylings, spacey synths, fuzzy basses, all sorts of cool stuff. Nothing particularly harsh/wall of noise, but also nothing new agey or goatee stroking either. Most tracks are on the long side and take a few minutes to build upon themselves, so patience is required. For fans of downtown type avante, Tzadik/Zorn type artists. These guys/gals are about as local as it gets: David Bug, aka Leikam.

  1. Starts off sparse, fuzzy analog synths and rumbling bass, percussion thrown in for an overall dark and creepy vibe.
  2. Free-jazz meets distorto noise, dominated by improv drums, lots of good fuzzy noisy bass, kicks into a rock beat near end, cool.
  3. Sparser, with drums, noises, and treated voice/samples, drums pick up a driving beat midway, things get denser, then they fall apart again
  4. 8 seconds pause – INTERMISSION
  5. very sparse, fuzzy stuff, tinkling piano, drums appear quietly, midway it gets noisier, still fairly chill though.
  6. Very sparse to start, drum solo’ing, about 8:30 in a slow noise rock beat and feel emerges for a minute or two, then it falls to sparseness, even close to dead air at ~8:30, builds up again to some sparse improv.
  7. Treated vocalization (or very vocal sounding source), spacey ambience underlies, improv feel dominates, with drums and subtle sound sources.

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2008-05-04 Tippo: Mopus . 1 . . 2 . . . 3 [Buy Album]

by Craig Matsumoto, KZSU 90.1FM, Stanford University

Experimental improv; fairly long pieces full of sustained tension. Dark soundscapes with lots of synth and laptop work; piano from the modern-classical camp; and drums with some jazz influence, in a vicious slashing way.

  1. (11:45) Dark but fairly calm and steady start. Waves of hard-digging sounds from the synth. A darkly buzzing and needling sort of stillness; sometimes sparse but not quiet overall. A thicker, wilder clamour builds in the last 4 minutes (awesome).
  2. (19:31) VERY quiet start. Scattery near-classical piano in a slowish, dark setting. Drum solo, into a mid/fast flow, a dark improv with ghostly vocals and intense synth swells. Around -8:00, it quiets down to a stillness, then surges back with ferocity before a long, tense cooldown phase.
  3. (9:46) Eerie swirling tone. Slows down, adds deep piano. Later, blossoms into a loud sprawl.

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2007-10-11 David Leikam: A Split _ ing [Buy Album]

by David McWade, KZSU 90.1FM, Stanford University

Improv, experimental jams of various styles. The artist is KZSU dj David Bug. Most tracks are very long and they all sound different (often with changes within songs), the improv theme is what holds them together (and it appears to have been recorded live in-studio). The artist clearly has a great deal of range and skill. Start with 2, 5

  1. Lo-fi, fuzzy noisy indie rock jam.
  2. Excellent, celestial and twisted classical sounds like Legendary Pink Dots circa ‘Asylum’ (or earlier) meets Robert Rich circa ‘Calling Down The Sky’. Worth the length. My only complaint is that the astrologers consider Saturn to be a ‘bad planet’.
  3. Long, jammy, drums and electronic noises, evolving, good.
  4. A lot of changes: starts echoic celestial, compendium of different types of synths and instruments (strings and horns, etc.) Then with about 10 minutes left gets darker, pensive, and more industrial-ish, later gets sparse. The last 5 minutes are very nice, makes me think of MIMIR.
  5. Starts minimal, gets kind of intense, chaotic modern, dissonant classical with piano mixed with electronic sounds with about 6:30 left, brilliant and pretty. Haunting voices, minimalism, more dissonant chaos.

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