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Zombie Zombie – Loubia Hamra OST

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Zombie Zombie – Loubia Hamra OSTFor my first few listens of Zombie Zombie‘s soundtrack to Narimane Mari‘s film Loubia Hamra, I very deliberately didn’t make any attempt to find what the film was about, so I could do an experiment with myself and see what images the album brought to mind. Turns out it’s either a stunningly inappropriate soundtrack (which I doubt, somehow) or I’m just stunningly bad at judging films by their soundtrack, as it’s actually about children during the Algerian War of Independence, and not, as I had suspected, about either robots or beer, or possibly robots drinking beer. Perhaps I’m bringing too much baggage to this.

Suffice it to say it’s a bit of a departure for Zombie Zombie — well, to an extent, in that the synths perform a much less bouncy and retro-futuristic role than on previous work. Indeed, on starting the album up you could be forgiven for thinking you’d wandered onto the soundtrack for The Wicker Man, a lone female voice singing what sounds like some sort of folk song over a drone which, on further examination, isn’t, as you’d previously suspected, an accordion, but is — of course! — a synth. I mean, this IS Zombie Zombie after all. And then it all starts sounding much more like you’d expect on the second track, “La Danse Des Ombres,” when the drums kick in.

And oh, such drums they are! In the past, the percussion has tended to play second fiddle (Hmm. Not sure that’s possible. Note to self- check this shit out at some point) to the pulsing and bubbling electronics, but here, as with their live shows, the more beat-heavy tracks are ALL ABOUT THE DRUMMING. It’s like relatively low-tech techno, as if rave had come straight out of disco in the late ’70s, before anyone had time to make ’90s technology, and yes, you can, and almost certainly will, dance to it. And anyone looking for prime-time Zombie Zombie grooves will be more than happy with “L’esprit Du Cimitière” (in its two parts — one funky, the other funkier), which could have come from any previous Zombie Zombie album. Possibly even the John Carpenter one, though it’d have to be from a movie you’d never seen, because it has a different tune and stuff.

Elsewhere, though, it’s very definitely, and wonderfully, playing by a different set of rules than usual. “Vive l’Algerie” is all tweet and squidge, the drums used to convey atmosphere rather than move the body, like distant thunder. On the other hand, “Le Dernier Bain” sounds like a cleaner version of those times when Throbbing Gristle decided they wanted to be giant wounded beasts calling to each other across desolate icebound landscapes.

It’s a little slight, clocking in at just over 20 minutes, but what’s here is very good indeed; though, as is often the case with soundtracks, it does very much feel at times like it’s a part of something bigger, rather than a thing in itself. Which is no criticism, really, because that’s essentially what it is. And when they let themselves go into full-on Zombie Zombie mode they’re as hypnotic and physical as ever. Why could that be, I wonder? I suspect it has to do with their being French. (Wait for it… here comes the appalling Pulp Fiction gag, right about now).

Yes. I suspect it’s probably because of the mantric system.

I’ll see myself out, shall I?

-Justin Farrington-

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