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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

ZENZILE - Living In Monochrome

ZENZILE - Living In Monochrome (UWE France) Comentários: Some are going to be disappointed, but it will be hard for Zenzile to retain their crown as the Kings of French dub with the release of this fifth album (and twelfth record, if you include singles and side projects). While the quintet from Anjou has always taken certain liberties with Jamaican dogma, it’s safe to say that they’re all over the place these days. The bottle doesn’t matter, as long as it gets them drunk… They already took their fans by surprise a couple of months ago, when they exorcised their electro tendencies with Sound System. More recently, they’ve proven that they could be just as good at Hip Hop, if they wanted to be (see the excellent Meta Meta EP). With Living in Monochrome, they’re finally embracing the rock proclivities that appeared sporadically in earlier works. A quick nod to the ‘80s before shaking off the hordes of French groups trying to jump on their bandwagon: Zenzile are putting the bass down and digging deep into post-punk, white funk, cold wave and urban blues to reinvent themselves for the Nth time. People who understand references better with names should look deep into their record collections and dust off Gang Of Four, Bauhaus, P.I.L., Devo, Fugazi, The Ex and Talking Heads… This new work was recorded and produced at Studio Black Box (which has already tamed the guitars of the likes of Shellac, dEUS, and Sloy) and represents a definitive break with the group’s recording past. You might be telling yourself that you’ve seen it all before, that this sort of thing is nothing more than a rhetorical flourish to sell more records… but listen to the White Stripes-esque demonic riff on All Day Breakfast and tell me honestly if you could have ever imagined that Zenzile would go there a few years ago. And what about the disco leanings of Sham, or the synthetic pop of Who’s For Real? Yes, the general mood the album is significantly harder, but it’s also important to be aware of which voices dominate the lion’s share (about two thirds) of this album. The old faithful are there of course: Sir Jean, giving us the group’s last Jamaican hurrah in Rising Fist, a surely Jamika Ajalon (Who’s for Real?), probably scarred by her solo escapade, or K-Rol Gola, who we’ve already met on Sachem in Salem and Metà Metà, and who here sounds like Bjork mixed with Nina Hagen in a funky avalanche (Sham). But three new voices have stamped their mark on this album. After having their work remixed by Matthew Herbert and Doctor L on their previous release, Zenzile are keeping up the foreign policy, asking the most erotic voice in British trip hop to come out of hiding and guest on an electro-funk number, Reflection, something the gentleman (you’ll have recognised him as Tricky) seemed only too happy to do. David K. Alderman, the stubborn Welsh front man of Warehouse 99 Project, lends his sexy Jesus Lizard style growls to two abrasive tracks, All Day Breakfast and Demon Inside, that could well make life difficult for LCD Soundsystem and the like. And finally Paul St. Hilaire, a.k.a Tikiman, whose many appearances with the Berlin duo Rhythm&Sound have become too numerous to mention, lends his velvety voice to a suspended rhythm that could only have inspired him. But don’t go thinking that Zenzile are the kind of band to try and hide a weak album behind a dazzling list of guest singers… not at all. To the contrary, the boys consistently show who’s the real boss with a fistful of instrumentals that are certainly among the best of their recording career. The taut rhythm and pyromaniac sax of Still Can’t Sleep kick off the album, and it’s as if Morphine and Fugazi had met on a deadly night when everything could change forever. “Twelve hours of work, and I still can’t sleep…” The beautiful Giant Undertow rings the hell’s bells with guitars that hesitate between melancholy and madness, while Offshore and Last Drink on Heart go deep into paths already cleared on the group’s previous album, Mafate, becoming a sort of cerebral, organic rock that owes as much to Pink Floyd as to Miles Davis. Stuck in a suit that didn’t fit anymore, Zenzile decided to take the Incredible Hulk approach… Dub is in tatters, but groove is having its hey day. in uncivilizedworld [Para Ouvir/Samples]

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