Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Zomby - Where Were U in '92?

I have to admit that I overlooked all of the signs in my haste to purchase anything with Zomby's name on it. Having only been familiar with the bleepy, low-end-weighted bangers (Spliff Dub, 1up, Space Man, etc.) he's been churning out, I was a bit taken aback by this album. In retrospect, the title and certainly the inscription on the sleeve which read; "This album is dedicated to the pioneers", should have been a direct give away as to what I has holding.

Maybe you've already figured it out just by reading this.

If not, what I brought home from the record store that day was not Dubstep at all. Nor was it the proper LP I was expecting. Playing more like a mixtape than an album (14 trks in less than 40 mins; complete with blends), this is Zomby's homage to the greatest generation... well, with regards to brittish rave that is.

Rude bwoy posturing, soaring pianos, air raid horns, hellium diva vocals, Blade Runner samples, Mentasms and more chopped up think and funky drummer breaks than you can shake a glow stick at; this album is vintage breakbeat 'ardcore, worthy of it's 1992 invocation. Zomby even went so far as to use hardware (Akai2000 & Atari ST) to insure the authenticity of the vibe he was after.

The effort shows. With uplifting keys and wailing divas, Float and title track Where Were U... conjure the best of 4 Hero or early Blame. U R My Fantasy, with it's soothing vox and melancholic pads over stuttering breaks, would sound right at home with Skeleton Keys-era Omni Trio. Lest one forget the present in a rush of hedonistic nostalgia, Zomby includes little elements here and there to remind us that this is post-2k urban London. For instance, the aptly titled Euphoria which though siren filled and driven by a chopped think, features a big grimey breakdown in the middle. And Pillz crosses a straight four-to-the-floor 150 BPM rhythm with the vocal stylings of the one and only Gucci Mane, resulting in a BMore Club-ish sound.

Sometimes mistakes make for the best surprises. For instance, as a result of buying this album, I've launched into a little 'ardcore revival; digging out old Reinforced, Ibiza and Shut Up & Dance tracks. Even the first Prodigy album has been getting some play on my ipod. I, well Zomby actually, may well be ahead of the curve here ...as the new new wave of 80's revival begins to wane it's only a matter of time before all things 90's, and thus early rave, come back into vogue.


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