Zomby, One Foot Ahead Of The Other

[Ramp Recordings]

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Built entirely using an Atari synthesizer, a vintage drum machine, a handful of rhythmic themes, and few effects, “One Foot Ahead Of The Other” is Zomby’s crisp new nine track EP for Ramp Recordings. At times samey and formulaic, it makes heavy use of arpeggios and triplets, and is generally more playful than the producer’s previous weeded up material. One might hear this and think “video game music,” but like Quarta 330’s remix of Kode9’s “9 Samurai” it plays like a statement of what’s possible despite such limiting retro tools. The title track, for example, combines pleasant 8-bit sounds with a great 2-step beat a la USL’s “Making Love.” The understated sub-bass is a bit of a letdown, but allows the musical ideas their primacy.

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A few tracks seem to recycle others, which might arguably be an attempt at variations on a theme. But hearing that same 2-step beat on three of the nine tracks left me wanting greater variation. The two half-step entries, “Helter Skelter” with it’s more pronounced low end sextuplets, and “Godzilla,” which adds a bit of reverb and filter sweeping, however, break up the potential monotony of 8-bit instruments while staying true to the theme. Another simple but effective trick is the Wiley-esque quantization switching on “Bubble Bubble” and “Mescaline Cola.” Still, with such short run times and so many common elements, “One Foot Ahead Of The Other” might have worked better with fewer tracks. In any case, there are enough slightly different flavors to choose from here and Zomby’s growing catalog will undoubtedly provide more.

billy  on August 21, 2009 at 4:24 AM

ill informed review. the ep is centred around a piece by Liszt.
‘a bit of reverb and filter sweeping’
very technical.

littlewhiteearbuds  on August 21, 2009 at 8:24 AM

There are no overt references to Liszt and no review I’ve read of this release has mentioned one, so the onus is on you to explain it.

craig gordon  on August 23, 2009 at 10:40 AM

“To say music is ‘samey’ is as if to say trains are ‘moving’, How can something that exists in one realm be samey, rather thats its nature.” – Zomby via Twitter.

littlewhiteearbuds  on August 23, 2009 at 10:54 AM

I think Bill’s point was, a producer with such a wide reach as Zomby seems limited when sticking to one or two formulas across nine tracks. If that was his point than he’s succeeding on his own terms. Whether his audience appreciates his tunes being only in “one realm” is another.

It’s also worth mentioning that like all other releases, One Foot Ahead Of the Other” doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but rather is competing with a lot of very diverse stuff. In other words, the one realm Zomby pictures his release in shares space with so much more, and expectations are affected by that as well.

Jon  on August 26, 2009 at 4:02 PM

I’ve heard tell that some of the arpeggiac sections of ‘helter skelter’ and ‘pumpkinhead’s revenge’ may be based on/influenced by Liszt’s ‘grande etude de paganini no.4’ – see what you think: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CKH9nPGv_8

krossie  on December 16, 2009 at 6:39 AM

I just got it and this review is blow by blow spot on – nice to see somebody deconstruct an E P piece by piece by sounds rather then in relation to a particular press release, scene buzz or hype from what ever.

Its a interesting and decent to OK production but no more – I think he has and can do better – but some good ideas – Godzilla is the standout for me!


krossie  on December 16, 2009 at 6:41 AM

As to the Lizst angle I just can’t say but certainly a lot of “wonky” producers do seem to be stuck in a kind of lizst-ess at the mo! i can see Debussy in hudson Mohawke too!


krossie  on December 16, 2009 at 6:43 AM

lizst-less-ness even!!

OK I’ll leave it at that


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