Saturday, 29 August 2009

Zomby - Digital Flora [Brainmath]

As if the man hadn’t spoiled us enough last month with the release of his quite astounding One Foot Ahead Of The Other EP, reclusive re-animator Zomby has put out yet more new material, this time on the Brainmath label. His last release was certainly a career high thus far: veering from the sticky mess of his earlier Hyperdub EP on ‘Helter Skelter’ to ghostly carnival two-step on the title track and ‘Polka Dot’. The sum total of his material thus far is indicative of serious ambition and an unwillingness to be pigeonholed that ensures every new thing he comes out with is, at least, worthy of more than a cursory glance.

Digital Flora proves to be no exception. Composed of the title track and a skeletal refix on the flip (entitled, I believe, ‘Digital Fauna’) it takes as a starting point the more nostalgic and mellow side of his music – think ‘Test Me For A Reason’ – and pushes it further into shadowy, nocturnal realms. It’s something that could soundtrack a film noir set along the banks of the modern day Thames: the slight garage beat is bathed in eddies of purple murk, while tiny flashes of melody sweep past like car headlights across London’s bridges and disappear into the night. In typically contrary fashion, both ‘Flora’ and ‘Fauna’ end abruptly and without a trace, mid-beat, leaving only echoes coursing through the ears.

In the wake of Burial – and the resurrection of two-step influences into dubstep in general – there have been increasing moves toward this kind of phantom garage. It seems to coalesce the longings of a scene now lost into a different beast entirely, aimed squarely away from the motor regions of the brain to light up the areas controlling image and sound recall. It’s not so much copyism as much as it is collective rediscovery: in the last few weeks alone, both of Zomby’s releases, Clubroot’s recent album and Scuba’s new material on Hotflush (amongst others) have continued to mine this surprisingly rich territory – in all cases with unique and refreshing results. Long may the search continue.


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