It’s hard not to listen to London producer Zomby in the context of the long wait for Burial‘s next (dub)step. The two seem to work best in elusive anonymity, and more significantly, both share an uncanny penchant and deft touch for creating electronic music in mournful and evocative tones. Yet, while Burial’s album work – Burial (2006) and Untrue (2007) – relies heavily on hauntingly intimate vocal samples, Zomby’s palette on his 4AD debut Dedication (2011) is broader and more scattered. That’s where the comparison gets a little unfair, since Zomby’s work seems more decidedly a work in progress in contrast to Burial, who always sounds like the finished product.
But if we take Zomby on his own terms, the moments on Dedication are absolutely stellar, each showing promise of a multitude of different possibilities, ranging from the energetic shuffles of “Natalia’s Song” to the dark minimalism of “Riding with Death” and the delightfully playful bleep parades of “Digital Rain” and “Mozaik”. And in the midst of all that, another surprise is found in the form of “Things Fall Apart”, featuring the familiar nostaligic chants of Panda Bear – the only track to feature vocals. Approaching the end of this concise album, though, we find Zomby settling into a more introspective element distilled into its purest form in “Basquiat”, a moving piano piece underscored by a breathlessly enveloping layer of strings, echoing in parts the nocturnal loneliness of Burial and who knows, maybe his own. – Dan.
mp3: Zomby – Basquiat
Dedication is out now on 4AD.