Zomby – Dedication review

Dubstep is a genre I’ve generally avoided because of what I’ve perceived to be homogenous monotony, lack of appreciable variation and the general dearth of stimulation for the musical mind.  I admittedly wrote the scene off as an ecstasy-infused, computer-driven block of noise with which I would rather not associate.  I firmly believe all musical genres have at least an inkling of something to appreciate but I’ve struggled to list examples for this specific classification beyond the notion that some producers and artists showed noticeable creativity in their programming and loops.  That said I am sincerely impressed with Zomby’s July 11th release, Dedication.

This album is a frenetically diverse collection of what seem to be undeveloped musical ideas produced to create starkly differing sonic textures, and though the tone and timbre may change considerably from track to track, the transitions (many of which are seamless) and flow of the album as a whole is remarkably cohesive.  Notably impressive is the transition between “Alothea,” a rhythmically complex song rife with whispy percussive elements and “Black Orchid,” which features a retro-sounding synth to exhibit a profound example of musical antanaclasis but remains otherwise relatively devoid of rhythmic drive.

Diversity on this album consists of both mood and instrumental variance, both of which can be largely attributed to the uncharacteristically organic choice of instruments on many of the tracks.  Primarily, the second-to-last cut, “Bisquiat” is comprised almost solely of acoustic piano and what sounds like cello (though it’s most likely synthesized) featuring very minimal electronic percussion or traditional dubstep mainstays.  Another prime example of surprising instrumentation can be found in “Salamander” which features sounds resembling wood blocks, vibraphone and vocal “whoo’s” to build quite possibly the most jungle-y track on the record.

The last several years have seen dubstep shifting into what most listeners begrudgingly label as post-dubstep and where this album falls I’m not entirely certain.  Wherever you choose to file this album, I think it’s a positive improvement for this musical style and I personally hope to see it referenced as an example rather than an exception to the genre.

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