Zomby - Biography
Orbiting the British dubstep scene, Zomby’s music skirts any obvious genre allegiance in favor of a highly unique synthesis of various strains of modern dance music. Melding stark, off-kilter rhythms, heavy bass pressure and endless, queasy synth arpegiations, Zomby infuses dubstep’s dread with old-school hardcore rave, warped R&B, drum and bass and, perhaps most importantly, a twisted sense of humor. The results are highly infectious. Funky yet supremely twisted, Zomby’s work boasts all the hallmarks of a truly weird, visionary producer.
Zomby is British and that’s about all we know for sure. Similar to Burial, this producer has taken steps to ensure that his identity is not the focal point. We don’t know his name and he appears in press photos with a variety of feature obscuring tactics. Still, has unique and engaging music has gained serious attention since his first singles appeared in 2007. Since then Zomby has become one of the most respected and singular producers in electronic music.
Between 2005 and 2007 Zomby tracks began to float around the scene, on the Internet and in clubs. “Memories” and “Spliff Dub” are early standout tracks merging dark garage swing and early rave sugar rush with the weird slow motion throb of dubstep. Ears in the know immediately perked up. 2008 was unquestionably Zomby’s year with seven releases and a lot of hype. The music backs it all up as this producer continued to develop his unique style over the course of these releases.
As usual, Kode9’s peerless Hyperdub label was prescient in picking up on Zomby’s future forward sound, releasing the Mu5h / Spliff Dub 12” in February of 2008. “Mu5h” was immediate proof of Zomby’s deep and skewed talents with its off-kilter rhythm, anthemic melody and thick, stoned atmosphere. Liquid Dancehall / Strange Fruit followed soon after on the excellent Ramp Recordings. Quickly deviating from the dubstep signifiers of “Mu5h” and other early tracks, the two songs on this single usher in the beginnings of Zomby’s fully unique style. Both feature heavy bass and swung rhythms but fold in disembodied vocals, gloopy synth arpeggiation, swirling echo and 8-bit video game sounds for some truly disorienting music. This is the release that signaled Zomby was not another dubstep producer but in fact on some seriously spaced-out, utterly personal shit.
Later in 2008, November to be precise, Zomby released 2 singles and his debut full-length in the span of a month. Rumors & Revolutions, a single sided 12” for the Brainmath label, boasts a heavily pressurized bass-led groove with a downcast melody floating above. The Lie, released with Ramp, features two of the best Zomby tracks to date backed by a seriously deep LV remix. “Lies” melds dubstep bounce with gloomy hardcore rave melodies and a haunted vocal with hypnotic results. “Dripping Like Water” sounds like a warehouse rave submerged miles underwater with undulating, wonky bass and dancehall synth stabs to anchor the queasy dubwise effects.
Where Were U In ’92?, released on the mighty Werk Discs, is Zomby’s lone full-length. Nominally a concept record about the fusion of dubstep with early drum and bass and hardcore rave, this album is a mindmelter pure and simple. Folding in dubstep’s wobbly bass pressure and off-kilter rhythms, Zomby recasts his youthful memories of the bygone rave era. Track titles like “Fuck Mixing, Let’s Dance,” “Euphoria” and “Daft Punk Rave” should give an idea of the sounds Zomby employs to bring us back to the spirit of the party. Burbling synths glow with a neon light, classic house piano stabs drive the beat with ecstatic propulsion while Zomby endlessly mutates a set of rough and ready hardcore breaks. The mix of cutting edge production and passionate rave nostalgia births a strikingly original and sincere set of tunes.
As if these releases weren’t enough, Zomby delivered his crowning achievement in December of 2008 with the Zomby EP for Hyperdub. Focusing on the layering of wobbly, peg-legged beats and equally unstable synth arpeggiation Zomby has created some of the most confusing and intriguing music in his discography. Tracks like “Spaceman” and “Kaliko” are joyfully maddening to follow. The rhythms collide and clash in surprisingly funky ways, making tempo seem almost irrelevant. “Aquafresh” is perhaps the best track here. If Zomby has a defining track this is it. Lopsided rhythms bounce around to their own internal logic, anchored by funky synths and a dank, dark bassline. This EP cements Zomby’s place as one of the most innovative producers around.
2009 brought a digital release / 10” for Brainmath, Digital Flora. Both tracks explore minimal garage rhythms, skanking bass and shimmering synth melodies. July saw the release of One Foot Ahead Of The Other, a double 12” for Ramp. Featuring some of the finest tracks since the Zomby EP, this release ups the ante and points to the future of this producer’s music. Nine tracks explore various styles and Zomby’s trademark neon, queasy, rhythmic synth patterns centered around a shifting 4/4 pulse and dirty R&B bounce.
Zomby is simply one of those producers that hears things differently. By mutating his influences he is able to synthesize the hallmarks of those styles into something disarmingly original. Rave, garage, dubstep and crunked-up R&B are squashed and reshaped to Zomby’s singular take on rhythm, creating a hybrid, visionary music that is as strange as it is funky.