Artist Spotlight: Zomby
by Philip Sherburne | June 27, 2013
The British producer Zomby is a pretty cryptic dude. He wears masks and tweets in koans; his sketch-like tracks feel like puzzles pieced together out of airhorns and broken synthesizers. But one mystery in particular hangs over his new album, With Love: Did the titles or the sequencing come first? Because, as a cursory glance at the double-disc, 37-track album makes readily apparent, each disc is sequenced in alphabetical order. Which means that he either sequenced the album and then set about selecting evocative titles that fit with his alphabetical schema -- very OULIPO of him -- or he simply turned in the masters as they were ordered on his desktop, and 4AD rolled with it. In the end, it hardly matters; Zomby's work is thrilling in part because of its fragmentary nature. His records zig-zag from lumbering dubstep to skunked-out Southern hip-hop, and from pastel-tinged IDM to rave anthems that go off like glow sticks soaked in kerosene.
To that end, we've selected 36 tracks from Zomby's catalog -- his albums Where Were U in '92?, Dedication and With Love, plus various EPs, compilation tracks and remixes of artists like Animal Collective and Various Production -- and sequenced them in, yes, alphabetical order. It turns out to be a fascinating way to get into Zomby's headspace: It's arbitrary and erratic, and yet by the end (almost two hours on the dot!), it all makes a curious kind of sense.