Zomby – Dedication (4AD)

Zomby made a name for himself through a series of 12″s and EPs which demonstrated his his unique take on electronic music (check out tracks like 1Up and Kaliko). Despite his off-kilter tribute to rave culture, Where were you in 92?, Dedication could be considered as the producer’s debut LP and, given the quality of his earlier output, the anticipation has been high.

Zomby’s music has always been difficult to label, resisting the over-used  dubstep tag, or indeed any strict genre definitions. He instead works to his own agenda, incorporating electronic music’s aesthetics but relying principally on feeling and his penchant for melody. Dedication was inspired by the passing of the secretive producer’s father and there is an unmistakeably melancholic atmosphere to the whole album, an underlying sadness to the melodies and a lack of his previous playfulness. Yet, much like his back catalogue, Dedication remains an unclassifiable album which moves from synth workouts like ‘Black Orchid‘ to the ominous piano track ‘Basquiat‘ but still contains tracks akin to his earlier arpeggio-laden releases such as the fantastic ‘Digital Rain’.

Though there are some inspiring moments (the hypnotic ‘A Devil Lay Here‘ and the driving ‘Mozaik‘), the rest of Dedication is a skittish affair which turns out to be very difficult to love. There are 16 tracks on the album but the average length of each is only 2 minutes 25, surprisingly short. Tracks like ‘Salamander’ and ‘Jimmy Best’ are quickly forgotten melodic fragments that  just don’t fit together with the rest of the album whilst many tracks end very abruptly, replacing the classic fade out with clinical cut off. This ploy may be a break from the norm, especially in electronic music, but it makes for a jittery listen to an album you expect to flow together. After hoping for a contender for album of the year, I can only hope that Dedication is a grower, an album that takes time to really get into and understand, unfortunately (so far) it doesn’t live up to the hype.

* For background on the album and the mysterious man himself check out a great interview conducted by The Stool Pigeon.

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