Tunes which are seriously deconstructing the progression of the western bass canon.
Matthew Bennett 2011-11-18
Anonymity: it’s a cultural currency that certainly has a robust base-rate to underwrite its continued existence. There’ve been many electronic acts that have attempted the masked raid on the industry. Underground Resistance, Basic Channel and to some degree Daft Punk all got into the vault. Nearly everyone else failed. They all looked a bit ‘alcoholic-trapped-in-post-office’. You know the scene. Just ask SBTRKT.
Zomby, however, is beginning to suggest that the above-mentioned some are a little overexposed. Yet his carefully constructed persona is just the dustcover of the book he’s writing. His tunes are seriously deconstructing the progression of the western bass canon. Disregard his faceless image and overlook his love of refusing to turn up to gigs: he’s floating around the rich confines of Britain’s history of dance music and punching holes in its walls. 2011 has seen a massive slackening of rules, parameters and even terminology – and Zomby’s at the centre of this.
His deliberately vague Dedication album on 4AD still fizzes several months on. A series of sonic sketches that end as abruptly and shockingly as they started; it’s unconventional, unpolished and unapologetic. He dismembers bass culture in belligerent bites. Nothing continues this genealogy, except perhaps these dismemberments still maintain more of their old rave-indebted form.
Labyrinth and Sens both have such meat on their bones, homages to jungle and hardcore which are surprisingly long and coherent for Zomby. The other five tracks, however, hasten the fading musical shadows that he’s getting increasingly famed for. Trapdoor is a sinister space where anything could happen, a meandering mist of synths, woozy murmurs in tempo and hyperactive percussion that gives short shrift to the ear. Likewise, Equinox is a scamp, swapping time codes merrily and generally mooching around nostalgic warehouse raves with crocodile tears in its eyes. The whole of Nothing is ideal fuel for a scene with no direction yet determined, where ideas are latched onto and exhausted within weeks. Here he thrives: another’s no man’s land is Zomby’s workplace.
What are we left with? A nebulous set of hyper-stoned musings on bass tethered together in the hard drive of one man’s mind. Zomby loves overtly leaving his finger marks across the DNA of our dance scene, and it’s becoming increasingly fun dusting his path for prints and watching his obsession swell with every break-in.