Zed-U debut album - Night Time on the Middle Passage (3 stars)

Zed-U debut album - Night Time on the Middle Passage

Zed-U are a London-based trio made up of saxophonist and clarinetist Shabaka Hutchings, bassist Neil Charles and drummer Tom Skinner. Their debut album has the feel of a work-in-progress, but an intermittently intriguing one. There are a couple of fierce jazz-thrash blowouts, but much of the music is conceived as spacious soundscapes, interweaving acoustic jazz with electronic loops and lots of effects, with a bit of dub reggae thrown in.

It is often very effective in its manipulation of musical and electronic textures, but can also get a bit meandering and unfocused, especially for repeated listening. A cover of Kraftwerk’s ‘Showroom Dummies’ with a dub reggae feel is quite entertaining if a bit tricksy, while ‘Chief’ evokes Acoustic Ladyland’s full-on thrash, and ‘Surman Part 1’ and ‘Part 2’ slip into free improv mode. File under promising at this stage.


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