Black Acre’s latest release sees Strange U beatmaker Dr. Zygote take a bit of time out from the duo to helm a new concept-driven library series, with the hiphop veteran aiming to place an emphasis on live and original instrumentation rather than a dependance on samples with Grupo Zygote. Zygote is keen to highlight that every element within the LP was played and recorded by the artists himself, with it marking a move away from what he refers to as an overbearing reliance on the “sonic options at our fingertips”. It’s an interesting precursor to the album, with it offering a range of scope to something truly experimental within a genre that has something of a tendency to rely on tried and tested formulas.
But for all the talk of the concept, you’re left to wonder whether this approach is remarkable at all. Dr Zygote’s approach seems too conservative to make this element of self-recording worthy of comment, with the production being neither being markedly stark and simplistic, nor being a dazzling showpiece for his own talents for live instrumentation. I was expecting strange and wonderful original instrumentation and production techniques, but Grupo Zygote is rather by-the-numbers compared to expectations.
But despite this rather muted initial reaction, Dr. Zygote does deliver a quality collection of tracks that are diverse and interesting in their approach. Removed from the somewhat overstated concept, this is a collection of accomplished tracks that do have a lot to offer any listener, taking cues from a whole range of different influences, Zygote exhibits his extensive musical knowledge through short sketches travelling around the globe from the Arabian warble of Beirut Dub to the King Tubby indebted Lunar Dub.
Indeed, the brevity of the compositions is utilised to great effect, lending a sense of fluidity and impact to the proceedings, whilst also ensuring that the compositions are also given enough time to fully develop. This variety coupled with the concise nature of the sketches mark the LP more as a compilation rather than a cohesive narrative, but this needn’t be a negative aspect given its position within the library series. Ultimately a promising start to the series, with a set of quality tracks from an always-reliable producer, even if they don’t quite live up to the concept.