Morgan Zarate, Hookid EP

[Hyperdub]


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As one third of Spacek, Morgan Zarate is fully cognizant of the bridges between funk, hip-hop, grime, electronica, and soul through that band’s smooth mixture of various modern sounds. On his own, he has served up this musical soup to artists like Dizzee Rascal, Ghostface Killah, and Raphael Saadiq. It’s no surprise that his current release, the Hookid EP, is being released by a similarly varied record label, Hyperdub. These tracks have appeared in sets alongside instrumental beats from L.A., grime from London, and dubstep around the world, showing the depth of their appeal and the immediate presence of their sonics.

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“Hookid” in particular shifts through styles quickly, starting as a low-key, lumbering grime tune on a slow crawl. It fits in with the current crop of experimental grime producers like Terror Danjah and the Butterz camp, even though its melodies take cues from Bristol purple sounds like Joker and Gemmy. While the textures and patterns sound like grime, the abstract manner in which they are arranged feels influenced by Flying Lotus’ hip-hop-by-way-of-jazz production. Zarate goes full bore into the stuttering bleeps and clattering kicks with “Buy Bye,” the melodies stopping suddenly and changing direction in places. As the drums slow down and fall increasingly out of sync, snatches of vocals and percolating bass float into the spaces that are left open. It’s a song that feels like it could suddenly fall apart and explode at any moment and that’s part of the fascination, that feeling of almost losing control. To close out the EP, Zarate flips completely around and turns in a one-minute exploration of Vangelis and John Carpenter, coming on like an urban remix of Assault on Precinct 13‘s theme for the club. There is almost no resemblance to “Hookid” and “Buy Bye” but “SP” worms its way into the eardrums on charm alone. After a long and full career, Zarate sounds completely re-focused and emboldened by this new output.

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