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Zuli: Numbers (UIQ)

Lee Gamble’s UIQ imprint brings a second EP from Egyptian producer Zuli (aka Ahmed Al Gazoly), and it’s a good one. Much like Gamble’s own works tend to push the envelope of sound design and the outer limits of dance and bass music, Zuli’s music here often defies simple categorization, though it’s entirely electronic. At times Zuli flirts with the same deconstructed breaks and beats that Gamble explores so effectively on albums like his recent Mnestic Pressure, but there is a curiosity to the way Zuli takes things apart and rearranges them that feels distinctly his own. It has some of the hunger for newness that characterizes turn of the century Autechre records, wherein they more fully broke away from traditional melody to instead focus on the potential of technology and rhythm in new and interesting ways. That comes through on a cut like “Tongue Chomper,” whose myriad bass kicks sputter in and out of regularity while delayed vocal manipulations skitter around in stereo.

Numbers (UIQ0009) by ZULI

He exploits the rhythmic potential of chopped up voices more fully on “She’s Hearing Voices,” where what sound like environmental recordings of male chatter in a room provide an ebb and flow of rhythmic underpinnings to a dreamy melodic synths. Eventually he locks it in place with a muted kick, and the jog wheeliness of its vocal treatment starts to make more regular sense, but it never loses that sense of disorientation that characterizes much of Numbers. Finale “Foam Home” splits the difference between wetness and elasticity with its rebounding portamento tones ping-ponging from left to right while an array of moist synths percolate. Most of Numbers is well balanced between thick, meaty low end and more finely honed details and layers, an exciting foray into sound design that has just as much a stake in the broader scope of dance music culture. Highly recommended.

Buy it: Bandcamp