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Posted on July 15th, 2013 (7:12 am) by Maxwell Weigel

By this point, Zomby has made his preferences clear: he loves what he loves, and hates what he doesn’t love. He doesn’t love anyone who calls him out or ”trolling little melonheaded shits,” whereas he loves his dog, anonymity, and endless streams of Twitter rants. Fittingly, his latest album titled With Love bursts out of his rib cage (with that description, conjure up the goriest image in your head possible and you’ll be in the right mindset to listen to this album), spanning two CDs or three records of his favorite musical stylings. According to him, those stylings solely consisted of cult music, Aphex Twin, Burial, Actress and Gucci Mane during the recording process. It would be unbecoming of such a volatile artist to run any sort of narrative or overarching concepts throughout this double LP, yet the thematic consistency and alphabetical order of the song titles might suggest otherwise. While With Love contains many of his best tracks, it coheres more as a beat tape than a double album, complete with the monotony and half-baked ideas typical of a beat tape.

Right away, Zomby sets the tone with “As Darkness Fall”; while the actual film Darkness Falls absolutely sucks, Zomby sets a far more convincing horror movie atmosphere with fluctuating, seasick tritones, faraway yelps, and a mud-squelching beat. Most of the first disc continues his winning streak, to the point of cutting off some of the strongest tracks such as the ethereally funky “Ascension” and the warped dirty south of “The Things You Do” far too short.

These first seventeen tracks see the Brooklyn-based, London-reared producer willing to experiment in a dizzying array of directions, which works to his advantage. Considering the album flows so choppily, Zomby succeeds when he drastically juxtaposes either the styles or moods of songs. “Horrid” slows a cavernous, skittering TR-808 beat down to a slop in order that anxiety-ridden synths can rest atop of it; however, right after this trudging track comes the chilling “If I Will,” complete with a fast-paced, bone-cracking beat box, detached vocals and sinister xylophone.

Then there’s “Isis,” utilizing a simple drum track and wormy bass guitar to instill funk into the purposefully lifeless ambiance of his tunes. While drum 'n' bass has always crept in the back of Zomby’s productions, moments where he delves into the oft-tread-upon genre (as on “Overdose”) sync with thrilling results.

For those who absolutely cannot have their fill of sparse, sinister trap beats, the second disc of With Love will suffice to whet their appetites. For the rest of us, the ride through these tracks will likely become somewhat grating. The dungeonesque “Black Rose” sets the tone beautifully, cranking a bone-chilling melody in shadowy ambiance. And then “Digital Smoke” does the same thing, just with a beat. After that, “Entropy Sketch” continues this exact same trend.

Not that this disc is devoid of variety or compelling tunes: “Glass Ocean” features some of the album’s most compelling melodicism and trip-hop, and “Soliloquy” fleshes out the beat and drama more than most of these tracks to great effect. Rather, the overload of material on this disc weakens Zomby’s vision by overflowing with a number of beats that are certainly competent and mood-setting, yet are virtually indistinguishable from each other. The most captivating material strips his soundscapes of beats entirely to wallow in dusk, as on the title track and the Sweet Home-esque“Reflection In Black Glass”.

If Zomby actually did intend to weave a narrative throughout With Love, the second disc essentially weakens the strength of it by refusing to let his compositions (and consequently, the listeners attention span) gestate. Case and point? Zomby’s aforementioned, overflowing Twitter account. At the same time, the way that Zomby mixes overload with restraint and over-sharing with anonymity rides a thrillingly dangerous line, and With Love certainly feels dangerous. It might not be the game changer we wanted, but it’s likely exactly what Zomby wanted.

Track List:

Disc 1
1. As Darkness Fall
2. Ascension
3. Horrid
4. If I Will
5. Isis
6. It’s Time
7. Memories
8. Orion
9. Overdose
10. Pray For Me
11. Rendevous
12. The Things You Do
13. This One
14. Vanishment
15. VI-XI
16. VxV
17. 777

Disc 2
1. Black Rose
2. Digital Smoke
3. Entropy Sketch
4. Glass Ocean
5. How To Ascend
6. I Saw Golden Light
7. Pyrex Nights (feat. Last Japan)
8. Quickening
9. Reflection In Black Glass
10. Shiva
11. Soliloquy
12. Sphinx
13. Sunshine In November
14. Vast Emptiness
15. White Smoke
16. With Love

Zomby - With Love
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

70 / 100
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