Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit


Zomby – Dedication
01 August 2011, 09:00 Written by David Newbury

Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, Section 63,1-B

” ‘music‘ includes sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats.”

It was May 1992, on Castlemorton Common in the Malvern Hills. 40,000 crusties, baggies, boy-racers, ravers, new age travellers, pushers, and poppers, held a week long free party despite being shunted from their usual site by the sound of da police. Impossible to stop, the DJ’s kept playing, the people kept coming, the music grew louder, but as it naturally wound down the organisers were arrested and the sound systems confiscated. This wasn’t a time of an educated middle class having a jolly in a squat in the name of solidarity, this was a lifestyle and it was at risk. The most basic of rights were challenged, an ancient, tribal, right – The right to dance. John Major had declared war and he was winning. Castlemorton didn’t cause the Criminal Justice Act, but it confirmed its route, and repetitive beats were public enemy number one.

Where were you in 92?

Basic demographics say you weren’t there. You will have been somewhere between sitting in a highchair listening to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or getting overly excited about Mario Kart on the SNES, unaware of the cultural earthquake beyond. Rave, as the originators knew it was over, and a new era of a more mainstream dance was born, away from the world arches and fields, and into licenced parks and clubs with appropriate fire regulations. So when Zomby asked Where Were you in 92? as the title to his repettative beat laden debut album he wasn’t being nostalgic for a long lost utopia or boasting about being somewhere we weren’t. He was celebrating a time and place and gifting us a glimpse of what is was to be in a post Thatcher warehouse, an arch under the M69, or somewhere, somewhere in a field in Hampshire alright.

Zomby’s debut was full of euphoric careless freedom whereas Dedication is the comedown with each beat pixelated in a detached Post-Rave daze. There is an undeniable aura of Burial to Dedication with his sparseness felt throughout, but there is more than mere 3am Dubstep to the record. Indeed, although Zomby is tarnished with Dubstep, he simply isn’t. Instead he uses it as ground zero for deep explorations into electronica such, the palpitatingly beautiful, ‘Natalia’s Song’. With its meandering loops and distant spirit vocals it’s more of a dream where Four Tet waltzes with Autechre until dawn, than grey night bus form Brixton, but with a bit of Burial for good measure.

Dedication is a scattergun of ideas and at 16 tracks in 35 minutes it presents them succinctly and precisely. The exotic ‘Salamander’, transcendental ‘Lucifer’ and inquisitive ‘Vanquish’ are all under 60 seconds, but all have a specific sound and musical purpose without needing to expand and explain itself. Put it this way, if Phil Collins’ ‘In The Air Tonight’ was just the de-dum de-dum drum bridge it would be great, but it was ruined by turning it into a full song. Even with longer tracks such as ‘Black Orchid’ and ‘Florence’, they are no longer than necessary. They showcase Zomby’s skill in identifying an appropriate loop and seasoning it to taste. They are sparse tracks without being minimalist, it’s just case of being prudent and just adding what’s needed rather than being miserly aloof as some Dubstep producers can be.

There are extravagancies on the record though. ‘Things Fall Apart’ starts with a Rave horn and gun shots, before spiralling Psy-Trance houses ticking vocals form Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox; vocals which Zomby repaid by not turning up to his Animal Collective curated ATP slot. It’s Dedication’s most commercial sounding track with a low Garage beat under metronomic hi-hats, but is itching for a remix to make it a peak time filler. ‘Mozaik’, the album closer, allows itself to build up and add layers on top of a Dancehall riddim until it reaches a Richie Hawtin crescendo, but then has the confidence to just stop.

It’s confidence which summaries both Zomby as an artist and Dedication as a record. Zomby cannot be pigeonholed, he flits between Dubstep, and Rave, incorporates Piano House and Trance, but all the while maintains a unique looping sound which confidently embraces all genres. And Dedication itself knows where to take its ideas without diluting a tracks theme in compressed layers or extensions. It’s a scrap book which is good enough to be a finished piece. Essentialy Zomby is the Dubstep Aphex Twin and Dedication mirrors Aphex’s 2001 album Drukqs; this record also has the confidence to explore genres and contain short tracks which contain just one fantastic idea. Techno is the root of Aphex Twins music and from there he can explore Gabba, Trance, Ambient and so on, and Zomby does the same with Dubstep; leading him though electronica’s wardrobe and into the melting pot and genre free-for-all that was Rave pre 1992.


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