Zomby – Dedication (4AD)

zomby dedication 7.4.20113


“It’s close to midniiiight, and something evil’s lurking in the dark…”. A floorboard creaks. “You try to screeeeee-”.

Fear not, dear readers, for this is not the start of an awfully clichéd horror movie, but the sound of Zomby, mystery man (or woman) of post-dubstep, post-rave, post-everything. You see, Dedication is MJ’s most famous monsters, re-animated; same pop sensibilities, but an all-new sonic palette. And no fake blood or grave paint.

His sophomore album is markedly more mature than previous efforts, moving on from the ode-to-hardcore of debut Where Were U in ’92, as he pulls together otherwise disparate influences to create his vast, melodic soundscapes. We’re not in clubland anymore, Toto, the revellers are dead, the laptop fiddlers have taken over the earth, and this is something far more complex.

The record still features all the requisite bleeps and boops, but has a rather more sinister undertone. The pace is relentless, as each track gives way to the next at breakneck speed, but the record is almost schizophrenic in its feel, swiftly alternating from the euphoria and chaos of ‘Black Orchid’ to the sultry  ‘Natalia’s Song’, whose whispered vocals and spidery keys are dripping with sadness. It’s maybe a little strange that an out-an-out dance record is downright miserable, but miserable it is, unashamedly so. Each piano stab, each orchestral strain aches, crumbles under the weight of its melancholia. Dedication does not find its place easily in modern dance music, far less about the bump and rush than its emotional connection – it should be playing at 3am in the saddest, most plague-ridden club in the world, where My Chemical Romance fight with Morrissey over who can cry the most. And it’s raining.

Regardless of mood, however, a single theme turns the tracks into a complete package – his monstrous melodical smarts. Burial comparisons are widespread, and though complimentary, are hardly apt, as while he drowns tracks in overdubs and effects, Zomby takes the wilful tunelessness of Salem et al to its illogical conclusion. Their bludgeoning, screeching synths are turned in on themselves, used to stuff tracks full of hooks which cling on for dear life, pushing themselves to the forefront. In some ways, Dedication is more of a ‘mainstream’ record than those churned out by hit-factories across the world, as their juggernaut top sellers seem more and more obtuse, pitched to alienate, and it’s certainly far more accomplished artistically than the vast majority of other bedroom producers’ output. A strange compromise, perhaps, but despite appearances, at its core beats a heart of the blackest, gloomiest pop, and I love it for it.


Release date: 11/07/2011

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