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  • Mixmag Staff
  • 9 September 2016
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Zomby 'Ultra' (Hyperdub)

Masked man Zomby has been one of the most frustrating figures in 21st century electronic music. After a blast of incredible early EPs that stirred instrumental grime, old-school rave, acid house and Aphex Twin melodics into a unique, heady sound, he lost focus. His music emerged in fragments, the best stuff often only appearing as 30 second YouTube leaks. While he never stopped making startling tracks, he never made a coherent album – until now. Fittingly, he’s back on Hyperdub, the home of the best of his early releases, and there’s lots of echoes of that work, particularly the spine-tingling synth warbles and clusters of notes that he adapted from Wiley’s ‘Eski’ grime and moulded into his own signature. But here, he’s elaborated it further into unfolding high-drama chord patterns and song structures, as shown by the galactic sci-fi scope of ‘Reflection’ or the seven-minute psychodrama of the murky Burial collaboration ‘Sweetz’. Sometimes it’s deeply fucked-up, as on the churning ‘Fly 2’ or jagged ‘Freeze’, and sometimes it’s very beautiful. ‘HER’ provides a woozy kind of bliss, while ‘Thaw’ is, appropriately, as heart-melting a piece of ambient music as has been made this century. This is the record Zomby’s always promised to make, and it’s everything we could have hoped for.

9/10

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