I'm a self-confessed Zomby addict. Ever since his debut album 'Where Were U In '92?' blasted out of my speakers in 2008, i've been hooked. 'Where Were U In '92?' was a tongue-in-cheek homage to the rave era<!--more-->, a mishmash of breakbeats, trance and junglist brilliance that should never have worked but was so innocent and so much fun that you couldn't help but love it.
Zomby's music is quite hard to define, its steeped in memories, creating complex but minimal layers of melodies, a technicolour abstraction of everything that has happened in dance music in the last 25 years.
'Dedication' was recorded in tribute "to someone much loved and missed", the sense of loss is immediate on the sombre gunshot-ridden opener `Witch Hunt', and the heartbreaking `Natalia's Song'. Reminiscent of Burial, 'Natalia's Song' uses a cut-up vocal of Irina Dubtzova over a melancholy mix of looped synth, hi-hats and minor-key piano.
Zomby continues to borrow from and build on the sounds of eskibeat, dubstep, grime, house, garage, techno, trance, ambient music and all sorts of Nintendo beats that only Zomby seems to know how to use so well. 'Alothea' is a minimal deep house track that mixes effortlessly into classic Zomby 8-bit chiptune brilliance with 'Black Orchid', if ever anyone was destined to work for Nintendo it's this man.
It can be quite disorientating to listen to Zomby's music because there are few track separations, apparent in tracks like 'Riding with death' which feel as if they were part of the song before but aren't. Regardless of tempo or mood, the changes are so fluid, it's an unusual way to mix tracks. The dreamy vocals of Panda Bear (of Animal Collective) appear and work well on 'Things fall apart'.
Zomby's fickle nature can often frustrate, you are just itching for some songs like 'Lucifer' and 'Salamander' to last much longer than the 60 seconds he's given you. 'Vanquish' is probably the best example, you are waiting for something to kickstart what sounds like an intro but it never happens. But any frustrations are absorbed into the next track 'A devil lay here', probably his most measured track, an incredibly subtle shower of bleeps undercut with horns.
The piano is played a lot on this album, and becomes even more evident near the end of the album. 'Florence' has a delicate piano melody with scattering breakbeats, leading into the aptly named 'Haunted' and the biggest surprise is 'Basquiat' which is an emotional solo piano piece. I certainly wasn't expecting this, underlining the whole shift in tone on this album, in stark contrast to his debut. Just as you think its all over, the album ends with some sublime Zomby on 'Mozaik', and he has the last laugh, stopping the track when you least expected!
The big difference between Zomby and many of his peers is the emotional quality in his music, which probably only Burial has bettered. Zomby takes all the elements of the dancefloor and produces music you can listen to, 'Where Were U In '92?' was all about the pure innocent joy of life, 'Dedication' is a complete u-turn into the darker corners of your mind. There is a sad sense of loss, regret and remembrance throughout 'Dedication', epitomised by 'Natalia's Song' which is one of the tracks of 2011. You have to admire Zomby for being so daring, as this is certainly not the album anyone was expecting and all the better for it.