steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)

Rudi Zygadlo

"Great Western Laymen" LP/CD

Planet Mu

Genre: dubspop

Glasgow, UK

May 2010

People are starting to notice newly-appointed Planet Mu-ite Rudi Zygadlo, one of the producers in charge of pulling the dubstep genre in new directions. For Zygadlo, the formula entails contaminating dubstep architectures with pop conventions -- overt synth melodies and vocal parts, mainly. It's a risky approach, perhaps, but given Mike Paradinas' seal of approval, it's hard to raise much of an objection; and, as it turns out, Great Western Laymen is a tremendous record.

Let's start with the lead single, "Resealable Friendship," even though it's the tenth track on this album. Over its four enrapturing minutes, multileveled, overdubbed vocals get impaled by jagged synth bursts and a bubbly, frantic bassline. Out back in March, it gave listeners a brilliant taste of what Rudi was capable of, and Great Western Laymen's got more tracks like it, as well some distinct moments. One of the constants throughout the record is a recurrent use of full, juicy synths, one of Rudi's principal divergences from dubstep convention. These blissfully melodic tones form variegated vines around Zygadlo's vocals on standouts like "Perfect Lust" and the Moroder-inflected "Something About Faith"/"Layman's Requiem" duo, but are also left free to reign in the resplendent arpeggios of "Stop/Reject" and the eighties keys & horns populating "Opiate of the Mass."

But dubstep obsessives, don't fret. Certainly, these tracks aren't going to fit in on an All-Stars mix, but despite their melodic emphases, they certainly don't skimp on the rhythm section. There's less focus on the sub-bass, but there's still plenty of irregular rhythms, and these tracks fiend the big, heavy snare right from the opener. Zygadlo likes loud, overt hooks, but beyond the superficial pop dimension, a tremendous amount of work has clearly been expended in rhythm sequencing, particularly with respect to the subtle ways in which the beats interact with the rest of the track. Consider, for example, the marvellously intricate manner in which the ebbing, dynamic song elements of "A Room to Sing" interact with the gurgling bass and syncopated drums. It's a fascinating, well-oiled machine with Zygadlo pulling levers at the top, and the ultimate result is a multi-faceted record that is immediately fascinating, overwhelming, and downright alluring.

rudi zygadlo's myspace

"Resealable Friendship"

Michael Tau

[Vitals: 13 tracks, distributed by the label, released May 10, 2010]