Friday, 29 July 2011

Album review: Dedication - Zomby (4AD)

I've written before about the lack of decent long players in the realm of dubstep. Many albums are simply too hard on the ear and not varied enough to warrant repeat listens. I was very pleasantly surprised therefore when Zomby's new effort reached my Iphone. Not only is it varied but its light of touch and, dare I say it, uplifting in places - not something one might say about most releases in the genre.

Dedication is similar to the likes of Mount Kimbie in the way it draws in from a range of urban sounds and regurgitates them. Zomby's ongoing love of rave (first showcased in his slightly underwhelming debut Where Were U In 92? is again at the fore but this time more focused. It has a more human element than some of his previous efforts.

The first thing to say is that this is a record that covers a lot of ground in little time. It's 16 tracks fly by in a 36 minute exhilarating ride (once again the case for the short, focused album is made). Many tracks blend seamlessly into each other but each has a distinctive sound and Zomby has learnt the importance of providing differing moods and textures to keep things interesting.

Witch Hunt kicks things off and is punctuated by gunshots but its far from a bleak listen. Natalie's song meanwhile uses snatches of vocal (again very Mount Kimbie or maybe even Geogaddi era Boards of Canada) and is closer in spirit to rave than any bass driven sound. Even its lyrics 'move together...closer' verge on the euphoric. At various times the more abstract drum and bass acts (Photek, Omni Trio etc) come to mind as synths are introduced over soothing waves of bass (Alothea and Riding with Death are good examples). Black Orchid is a wilder trip - similar to some of the sounds on the Brainfeeder label with its juddering beats reverberating across the speakers from left to right.

The most accessible track (as well as the most distinctively dubstep) is undoubtedly Things Fall Apart. For one it features a conventional vocal (from Animal Collective's Panda Bear). It builds gradually to greater intensity before the 50's exotica of the following track (Salamander) releases the pressure. My own favourite track is Digital Rain - this is quite beautiful, streaming playful arcade-game melodies over a slippery beat-  the sort of thing you might imagine Kraftwerk recording if they were still doing so. Wonderful stuff.

The end of the album notably sees the introduction of piano. Both Haunted and Basquait make use of the instrument and here, as elsewhere, the label of dubstep becomes irrelevant. This is instead someone understanding the range of electronic music and combining with real instrumentation to push boundaries. Just as things slip away were are confronted by final track Mozaik - this is a shock to the system, upbeat. Rather than let things fizzle out Zomby demands our attention before ending things suddenly.

If you don't particularly like dubstep but do like electronic music I suspect you might like this. The best music is often that which transcends genre and despite my own initial reservations this does exactly that.

No comments:

Post a Comment