Zs is devoid of genre and unclassifiable. Since 2000, founder Sam Hillmer has remained its purveying constant, and with the addition of loose-limbed, meditative percussionist Greg Fox (Liturgy, Guardian Alien, Man Forever), and virtuosic avant-classical guitarist and composer Patrick Higgins, the band has found its epochal lineup. The trio’s vision is crystallized on Xe, Zs’ first full-length featuring the new trio, and first proper since 2010’s critically acclaimed New Slaves. Hillmer, Fox and Higgins—three supremely heavy sages who exchange their pulsating phraseology with a mind-blowingly telepathic bent—in one room, nailing Xe in one miraculous live take, manned by Higgins and noted A-list producer Henry Hirsch (Lenny Kravitz, Madonna, Mick Jagger) at the boards in Hudson, New York’s Future-Past Studios. The music on Xe even transcends artistic mediums, influencing renowned visual artist Tauba Auerbach, who believed Zs was examining the same structural concerns as her own work. She created two 3D steel helix sculptures derived from the scientific varieties known as the Z helix and S helix, which were then arranged and photographed in various configurations for the Xe album art. The album’s minimalist, esoteric vibes aligned perfectly with Auerbach’s mind-bending and shadowy metallic sculptures. The artist attests to have never worked so hard on a record cover, nor gotten so much out of doing so, creatively and personally.