Dedication@ is the second full-length album by electronic artist and producer Zomby. The record label 4AD is releasing the album, a strange choice considering that the incognito artist is now a label mate alongside Iron and Wine, The National and Bon Iver. At first it seems like an odd addition to a cast of emotion-fueled musicians, but after listening to Dedication, I feel that Zomby has earned a spot within this group.
“Witch Hunt” kicks off Dedication with haunting synth lines, snapping fingers and well-placed gun shots that echo off into the void. Spliced female vocals materialize between speakers like a phantom on “Natalia’s Song.” Animal Collective’s Panda Bear lends his vocal talents to the spacey single “Things Fall Apart.” Although this isn’t a song that sounds like it could survive as a single, it’s just as experimental as the rest of the album.
This album is brief, clocking in at just over 35 minutes. While this is a 16-track album, only a couple songs pass the three-minute mark. Three of the tracks don’t even make it to a minute. Not only is this album short, it’s all over the place. At times it slinks down into the murky depths of dubstep, only to switch gears into a track composed of cold, clanking piano keys, sending chills down the listener’s spine.
This is not the raving, jungle rhythmic Zomby we remember from 2008’s. Where Were U in ’92? This is not the spastic, blipping and bleeping Zomby we remember from 2009’s One Foot Ahead of the Other EP. This new Zomby is a dark, emotional beast. He crawls under your skin in sparse atmospheres and hypnotic rhythms, yet still manages to add his own flavor to dubstep in ways we’ve come to know and appreciate him for.
“Vanquish” is made up entirely of buzzing drones, hypnotizing the listener into a meditative state, albeit only for a few seconds short of a minute. “Haunted” sounds just as its title implies. Melancholic piano lines loom over scratchy taps and pitch shifting synth notes. “Basquiat” is another haunting track that conjures up images of impending doom with a somber piano playing over the hum of white noise. As for the dubstep, Dedication transcends it.
This isn’t a linear album that you can categorize into a single genre. Zomby is experimenting with different emotions, vibes and sounds, all of which come together to produce a difficult, but artistic album. Dedication is not an easily accessible album, but I cannot think of any other experimental album that is. These types of albums become increasingly rewarding with every listen, and this is one that should be heard.