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Dedication

Zomby

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Album Review

Titled in reference to Zomby’s father, who passed away during its completion, Dedication can be taken simply as another release from the enigmatic producer. From 2007 through 2009, Zomby issued a deeply concentrated yet somewhat whimsical blast of singles and EPs on Ramp, Hyperdub, and Brainmath. He also released an album of breakbeat rave-not-rave on Werk Discs, the label operated by the equally hard to classify producer Actress. His next move, then, could have gone in a number of different directions without being the least bit startling. On the other hand, Dedication is something of an event. After that flurry of activity, Zomby was mostly silent throughout 2010, so there was some suspense, and it intensified once news broke of his contract with 4AD. Furthermore, this is the producer’s most subdued and melodic set of tracks, in addition to his most developed work, despite keeping it as succinct (16 tracks, 35 minutes) as ever. It’s accessible to listeners who cannot be bothered to discern the differences and similarities between dubstep, wonky, and bass, yet it’s all too detailed and moving to be heard as some form of artistic compromise. A handful of the most effective productions are closer to liquid dancehall than his 2008 track of the same name, offering amiable bashment with plinking keyboards over slippery beats. Two of the most emotive Zomby tracks come with the hallucinatory “Natalia’s Song,” featuring softly jutting vocal samples from a female Russian vocalist, and “Basquiat,” a pensive piano-and-string-drone piece. Although it wasn't the intent, they’re more in the spirit of old-school 4AD — Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, the Hope Blister — than the majority of the label’s releases across the past ten years. The technicolor pellets over rat-a-tat snares return through “Things Fall Apart,” featuring a disjointed vocal from Panda Bear (the album’s only misstep), and the cycling “Mozaik,” which abruptly cuts off, and ends Dedication, shortly after the three-minute mark. Whether this is a one-off or a bridge to something more substantial, it's satisfying in the present and will likely increase in stature as years pass.

Biography

Formed: 1980

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Like fellow dubstep producer Burial, Zomby was initially a walking enigma — no information about his real name was known, nor were there photos of him with his face revealed. But where the former cultivated an anonymous profile common to so many electronic music knob-twiddlers, Zomby was, in a way, dubstep's own version of virtuoso guitarist Buckethead. His first official picture displayed him in ninja clothing, with a cardboard Eye of Providence covering his visage — an image he joked...
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Dedication, Zomby
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