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Archived reviews: Z

ZornBits For Breakfast/Gloomy Sunday
Label: Expanding Format: 7″

Pressed up on translucent tangerine vinyl, Zorn‘s contribution to Expanding RecordsEVS series opens with a rather pleasant synth line rising over a mechanistic yet melodic rhythm. Sparks of staticky percussion sound cleave themselves to the slowly chiming beat; the bass is warm and unobtrusive. Warbles of genial synthery make their presence felt without saying much other than “Hi, really nice to see you here, glad you could make it…” before making their gradual goodbyes in a passing, fragrant cloud as the electronic percussion winds around and down. The flipside snuffles with bass ponderousness, a near-Funky ticking continuity maintaining the path for the eventual step into a restrained glitch-blip polyrhythm. There is much to hold onto, melodically and rhythmically, among the swell and fade of low end and far-away tunefulness which uncurls among the chirrups and relaxed stutters of the circling motion until the concluding blips and extended, stringy keyboard chord.


Zulutronic Back to Bommershime
Label: Pharma Format: CD, 2×12″

At first listen, Back to Bommershime could possibly be mistaken for a cheesy, funky breakbeat Pop dance music album; all single-minded grooves, repeated samples and an aura of down and funky, ecstatic upness. With Zulutronic, things are never going to be that simple, that obvious.

For a start, whatever the arpeggiated synth loops do for the E’ed up parts of the brain, the production ensures the tingles down the spine are tinged with worry for the balance of Zulutronic’s mind(s). Revelling in the synthetic basslines, strimming snare rolls with shameless disregard for the pretensions of art or science, Back to Bommershime rediscovers the joys of mindlessness with an added edge of disturbed excess. No banally soulful vocal is too catchy to be made decidedly wobbly (“Elektrov***e” or the archly-titled “I Let U Go (When U Give Me Your Wallet)), or vocoded and processed into a strangulated, demonic voice of anti-authority, as on the outrageously formulaic (but nonetheless effective) “Holy Church of Pharma”. Every pitch-bent analogue trail, each programmed cascade of explosive beats or so-phat squelch is targeted for chemical re-invention in the image of a highly disturbed electronic dancefloor dream.

In subverting the happy pharmaceutical glow that pervades the Techno-House-Electro axis, Zulutronic’s Jammin’ Unit and Kerosene have achieved a kind of cathartic exorcism of the spirits of mindless hedonism in favour of a form of mindful, conditional surrender to Funk-tional body music in extremis. The balance between chaos and rigid breakbeat stepping frequently tips in favour of the former, as the effects become more outragous and the unheimlich metallic flavour of Acidic otherness overwhelms any concern for what is obviously big or clever – and there’s even a demented pomp-rock grand finale of chart-baiting stupidity in “Message From The Leader”. Granted, this requires a willing suspension of disbelief in anything other than the power of knowing, liberating dumbness, but what worked for Parliafunkadelic – the conjunction of shaken booty with fucked head – applies equally to Pharma’s tireless exponents of the unhinged groove.


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