Having recently handled production for Kashmere’s ‘Strange U’ project, smashing genre boundaries and putting out some of the most mind bending hip hop in the process, Zoot Records founder Dr Zygote returns for a six track vinyl EP on his own label. Entitled the Haze/Maze EP, it uses hip hop as it’s starting point but isn’t afraid to toy with the genres blueprint, treading through dark ambient soundscapes and moody synths for an engaging, brooding sound that, despite it’s relatively sparse drums, is full of true neck snapping moments.
Exploring a variety of moods throughout the tracks, Side A, kicked off by Haze, utilizes a slightly lighter aesthetic of melodic samples and warm bass while side B, where Maze starts proceedings, showcases the more menacing side of Zygotes sound. With the zoning qualities of Haze’s repetitive piano and echoing snare and it’s progression through stunning sax melodies and percussive perfection, it’s a release that instantly makes it’s quality apparent before the twanging bass line of the simple yet effective Caroline reinstates Zygote’s emphasis on quality over quantity as he lets few sounds do the talking of many and ushers his samples through smooth progression. Run Out finishes off Side A with a glitching, cracking and popping sound I’m really feeling, almost completely forsaking drums for a shuffling ambient soundscape led purely by it’s bassline and vinyl crackles to gently fade out into the flip.
Maze kicks off the reverse straight into a hard break that makes it’s head nodding agenda clear from the start, leading into a war face sound led by synth stabs, stuttering melodies and a plethora of atmospherics for a true eyes down stepper, aided by a touch of ingenuity as Egyptian like strings finish off it’s steady build up. Quick‘s heavy bassline and marching break continue on a similair vibe with a creepy atmosphere and blood boiling sound that’s almost uneasy to listen to and yet pleasantly addictive. Finally, 1968 shuffles through a haunting piano, chopped vocals, booming bass guitar and analogue reverb by the bucket load as the booming, gloomy sound scape comes to it’s head.
It’s a release that, although comprised of old and new tracks mashed together, defines Zygote’s experimental, fearless and genre defying sound to a t. I find my head nodding even when there’s no drums to nod to and almost hitting my keyboard when there is, and the quality of his drums is something that words can’t describe. However, the breadth and depth of samples is also not to be underestimated, with each track progressing effortlessly through slowly building instruments that excel both on the lighter side of things and the dark, menacing flip side. Pushing aside conventional artwork, Zygote’s hijacked old easy listening record sleeves with spray paint stencils so each sleeve is individual. Listen to the previews below and head over to the Zoot Records Bandcamp to preorder it in either wax or digital formats.