Sunday, July 5, 2020
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zK: Last Night

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Artist: zK
Title: Last Night
Format: LP
Label: Hallow Ground
Mark Godwin and Gareth Ormerod’s first full-length (albeit short) studio album as zK in five years makes reference to the act’s nearly 20-year history pushing boundaries under the umbrella of electronica, citing Autechre and the Skam label they previously released a single on, which has also been home to acts like Gescom and Boards Of Canada.

What they’ve offered up is still electronica, but truly experimental and mostly leaving the more familiar and explored structures behind. Sampled tones loop and re-pitch over layers of indecipherable, sometimes-repeating FM and AM radio dialogue, and washes of coloured noises. Aphex Twin-style repeating sequenced noise patterns sometimes provide the structure. Dubby production touches allow elements to delay and decay, giving everything quite a reverberant flavour.

Standout track “Fugitive II” centrepieces a slowly changing melodic piano pattern over glittering alien noises, a notably beautiful but abruptly curtailed arrangement leading into the emptier and more sinister “My Life Is Missing” (with its rather on-the-nose vocal sample reciting the title), while “Cognitive Dissonance” is one of the more easy-to-follow pieces, with a steady, super-minimal, faintly techno-ish rhythm pattern that gently underpins a rather unsettling interview with a lonely male talking about women.

Opener “Outside Broadcast” seems to be comprised almost completely of field recordings and sets the listener off in a slightly misleading direction. In a slightly similar vein, “Feral Confection” at times sounds like some of Alex Paterson and Jimmy Cauty’s earlier and more out-there sound layering, but with an electrical feedback layer that gives things a decidedly harsh edge. “Fleshpotting” (I’m too nervous to google that to find out what that means) wraps things up with a more open soundscape showcasing a slightly bizarre piecemeal operatic female wailing vocal over never-predictable pads.

It’s a well-formed mini-album of particularly experimental electronica that might not excessively surprise or delight in excessive quantities, but which has the quality and texture of a hearty sonic meal.

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