Music Consumption in the MP3 Era
Music Consumption in the MP3 Era

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Name: uao
Location: California

uao is also a contributor to Blogcritics.org, Rhapsody Radish. and FIQL.com.

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Feel free to dig through the Deep Freeze for more, but stuff dated before mid-March 2005 is still formative and impressionistic, and not really worth the effort.

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I grew up reading Robert Christgau, Village Voice, and Lester Bangs, Creem, Punk, various others.

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Note: the copyrighted audio material on this site is for listening only, and is not downloadable. It is provided as illustrations to the articles, and to interest people in the legal purchase of these artists' material. Any copyright holder who would like their material removed should contact me, and I'll remove it.

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Monday, April 11, 2005
 

Weekly Artist Overview: Zero 7

Zero 7: Somersault [12-inch Vinyl] (2004)


Frequently compared to the French electronica duo Air (known for "Surfing on a Rocket"), U.K. electronica duo Zero 7 has quietly developed a cult audience in America over the last few years. Their two albums have both gone top-5 on the electronica charts, and the pair have gotten substantial airplay on college and public radio stations. They still remain relatively unknown to the public at large; however their lush and sensual downtempo trip-hop flavored ambient techno chill out music is both elegant and accessible, and they deserve a wider audience.
Zero 7 [Concert Poster] (2002)
Producers Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker gained their initial exposure to the recording industry as tea boys for a London recording studio. Throughout the mid to late 90's, they developed their production skills while working with such artists as the Pet Shop Boys before putting together Zero 7 in 1998. Borrowing the name of a nightclub in Honduras, the duo released their first records in 1999; a remix of Radiohead's "Climbing Up The Walls" and a remix of cult folk artist Terry Callier's "Love Theme From Spartacus". Club play and word of mouth spread, so that when their limited release debut EP, EP 1 hit the shelves, it sold out within days. The follow-up, logically titled EP 2, repeated this success, and Zero 7 quickly became critic favorites before they had even released their first full length album.
Zero 7: Simple Things (2001)
That debut, Simple Things appeared in 2001, and quickly made an impression on both sides of the Atlantic. Featuring the soulful, lush vocal stylings of a trio of singers, Mozez, Sia Furler, and Sophie Barker, Simple Things is an intricately constructed melange of Morcheeba, Massive Attack, and Nightmares on Wax. Many of the tracks are constructed over gentle acoustic guitars, layered with classical string arrangements, tuneful keyboards, and sensual diva vocals, creating an instant chill out classic; fine listening for late night meditations or seductions. "destiny" is the real standout track, although the entire album is full of pleasurable twists and turns. The album did well in England, and garnered considerable attention in th U.S., reaching #4 on the electronica charts, and the top-20 on the Heatseekers and Independant album charts.
Zero 7: Another Late Night
Zero 7 was invited to handle the remix chores on an edition of Kinetic Records' downtempo mix series Another Late Night in 2002; they plunder the rap underground and reconstruct artists such as freakster Quasimoto ("Real Eyes") and dub (Roots Manuva's "Witness"), visit world music via Brazil's Da Lata, and France's Serge Gainsbourg/Brigitte Bardot oldie "Bonnie & Clyde." There's a reggae remix, Johnny Osbourne's "Truth and Rights" and some soul, via a remix of the Stylistics' "People Make The World Go Round. While the sources here are as eclectic as you can get, the album has a good, seamless quality to it; those unfamiliar with the art of remix albums might want to sample this one.

They also remix themselves; 2003 saw the release of Simple Things Remixes, a 5-song EP plus video track featuring some of the better moments from their debut, including "Destiny".
Zero 7: When It Falls (2004)
Their most recent disc, When It Falls, came out in March 2004, duplicating the chart performance of the debut almost exactly. The formula remains true to the debut; languid downtempo trip hop, featuring siren songstresses (including the returning Sia Furler and Sphie Barker, and newcomer Tina Dico). "Somersault", featuring Furler, gained significant airplay on public radio in the summer of 2004; it's a fine example of their sound, from the acoustic guitars and sinewy bass to Furler's undeniably sensual vocals. Dico gets an excellent showcase for her talents too, on the pastoral "Home". Barker gets the vocal duty on "In Time", an instantly arresting track.

Zero 7 is not without detractors; their music straddles a fine line between electronica and adult alternative, and it is tempting to dismiss them as postmodern easy listening. But that would be a mistake; Zero 7's warm, inviting sound is legitimately organic (real musicians play real instruments) and soothingly spacey. If that's not your cup of tea, so be it. But Zero 7 is a fine way for the rock listener to investigate the world of chill out electronica; it's a lot more alluring than you may suspect.


Listen to Zero 7: Somersault (2004)