People are starting to notice
newly-appointed Planet Mu-iteRudi 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
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.