Zomby - With Love
Ambitious and sprawling double LP by indefatigable talented artist
Given that Zomby routinely treats his fans with disdain and doesn’t bother turning up to play gigs when booked or petulantly strops off after 20 minutes, it would be fitting if I accidently didn’t bother to review his album. Fitting, but would get me into trouble. And, besides, it would be remiss of me not to tell you about his brilliant, haunting, and daring new opus.
Zomby gets away with his agent provocateur/contrarian/generally being a berk shtick because he is simply too compelling a producer to be ignored. His vibrant paean to rave culture ‘Where Were U In ‘92?’ was executed with rare clarity; brash, smart and prescient. His 2011 debut LP for 4AD Dedication showed him in a different vein – thoughtful, emotive, and capable of wonderful subtlety, using a dystopian palette of abandoned synths, subterranean beats and lonely, fractured tempos. And here on the 33-track double album With Love he again finds majesty in the gloom, conjuring a huge variety of compositions pregnant with a heavy-lidded intensity.
It’s a long record but it doesn’t feel it. Zomby has carved out an inviting niche for himself with short, bite-size morsels of urban dystopia. Where has his anon counterpart Burial currently preoccupies himself with epic and earnest indulgences of, well, Burial, Zomby prefers to have a lot of ideas that rarely extend longer than three minutes. He is an auteur, creating a variety of brief bass vignettes that use grime, D&B, dubstep and house as his guidewires. It’s a prodigious talent, to be able to conjure up this rich selection of rhythms with an almost contemptuous élan. Some reach a point of fruition, others end abruptly, but none are throwaway.
In that context, With Love is reminiscent of Aphex Twin’s 2001 album drukQs, an ambitious, sprawling, double LP by an artist of seemingly, at the time at least, indefatigable talents. Zomby walks a similar line of brazen effrontery – he does what he wants and he knows it’s good.