My Brother is a Monster

MY MOTHER played piano and cello. My father draws, paints, and sculpts; plays trumpet and guitar; and led an advanced R&D lab in the 1970s, developing robotics and rocket parts. You know what I do, but I also play keyboards and other instruments, studied music theory, and composed and produced music in my own studio before failing up into my present career. We Zeldmans go our own way, bring our own juice, and leave a trail of tears and gold. But my brother Pete Zeldman is the real talent in the family.

My brother Pete spontaneously composes and performs music of such rhythmic complexity that Edgard Varèse and Frank Zappa would be proud. Even with an advanced music degree, you’d have a tough time following the music analytically. But you don’t have to, because it grooves. That’s the crazy surprise of it. My brother plays 17 in the time of 16 in the time of 15 in the time of 14, with cross rhythms in simultaneous 3/4 and 7/8, and you could dance to it. Admittedly, you couldn’t pogo, but it doesn’t pretend to be punk. Musically it is probably the exact opposite of punk, but spiritually it is punk because it is pure affirmation.

My brother made two CDs before releasing his new video, Enigma, this week. I listen to these CDs a lot. Although I’ve watched my brother develop his unique rhythmic musical theories over the past 20 years, I don’t attempt to “follow” the music in any analytical fashion while listening. I just let it wash over me. So can you.

New art is rarely understood. New music is rarely what the people want. They threw tomatoes at Debussy and Stravinsky, and now their compositions are gentle backgrounds for dentist’s offices. White people laughed at rock and roll and their children danced to it. Those rockers laughed at hip hop and their kids dance to it. My brother’s music is like that. It is something new. It’s not going to be a movement because it takes a certain kind of twisted genius to conceive of and play it. But you might like it. And if you’re a drummer, you probably need to hear it.

I am proud of my brother and delighted to share his genius with you. Samples from his new video are available at His CDs are also available.

29 thoughts on “My Brother is a Monster

  1. Jeffrey,
    “Failing up”; Yes, I can relate to this! What a wonderful phrase.

    The best drummer I have ever seen live is Dennis Chambers. Apparently Mr Chambers said that he “didn’t believe what he heard wasn’t overdubbed” after hearing one of your brothers recordings. That in itself would make me want to check Pete out!

    I have just watched the video, and this former guitarist (now failed up web dev) can’t work out what the hell is going on! I can tap my foot to it, but this groove is from another planet.

    Far out.

  2. Love it. Purchased “Twilight Walks Over” on CD Baby and am now letting this music do what it will to my synapses.

  3. As another music theory student turned web dev, color me super impressed. It’s not just that he can play these polyrhythms, but that he actually makes them groove. If you stop analyzing and just sit back and listen, you end up bobbing your head and grooving along. Very impressive to make these hemiolas sound so fluid and groovy. Awesome. Thanks for sharing!

  4. The drumming isn’t the talent that gets me (and that’s incredibly impressive on its own), it’s the ability to explain what he’s doing over the top of the actual (insanely complex) playing! Very cool, and thanks for sharing!


  5. I’ve been a fan of Pete’s since I heard Other Not Elsewhere years ago. It’s terrifying what he can do. And let’s not forget that while he’s doing these things which the rest of us drummers (slash web developers) can barely understand, let alone do, he’s talking about what he’s doing. Good friggin lord. What he’s doing is really interesting and cool, but it makes my brain throb.

  6. Yeah, this is jawdropping wow. My favorite part may be his frequent “back to the nine,” you know, because 9/8 time is the normal everyday boring part.

    Damn he can play.

  7. Your brother is not from a known dimension.

    Freshman year I roomed with the son of a rocket scientist. Brains. Dinner with them was fascinating. Your family, what I know from reading you for all these years, sounds so very similar.

    Thanks for sharing this insanity. Like others have said, it’s not just that he’s playing. It’s the talking while doing it.

    Awesome 3

  8. Stunning. The independence of all four limbs, and then the ability to speak so well while doing all that simply boggles the mind. Loved where he was going at the end with it. I’ll have to see more.

    Monster? We need a better word.

  9. That is both fascinating and mesmerizing. Whilst trying to fathom what is going on with the hands, I forget about all the footwork going on as well – and then he’s talking about it too whilst on some 11.5/5 Hyper Split Reverse rhythm.

  10. polyphonically dismembered my reality. i’m going to build a new one based on the sounds from around 8:51 where he evolves jazz and metal at the same time. brilliant.

  11. I love Billy Cobham and say Dennis Chambers is perfect, however your brother is a kind of drummer-technical-groove-genius, i am deeply impressed, thanks for sharing!

  12. A prayer, a thought, a hope, that the east coast is alright. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Hang Tough.

  13. Man, I miss complex rhythm nerdiness and music theory (as I’m also a musician gone web dev). What he does in this video is mind-boggling. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

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