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µ-Ziq: XTLP (Planet µ)

Mike Paradinas’s most recent collection as µ-Ziq on his own label compiles two EPs released over the last couple of years. Many of these tracks harken back to the melodic golden age of IDM, but with nods to current trends and styles. Whereas Chewed Corners seemed to skim off the top of a lot of the more melodic bass music that’s graced Planet µ in recent years, many of these cuts seems to push further back toward µ-Ziq’s earliest synthy melodic sounds. Each of Rediffusion’s six cuts is focused fully on melody and harmony in its full-bodied synths and effects, only obliquely referencing current en vogue trends like on the throbbing background halfbeat of “Smeester,” the distorted syncopation and airy pads of “Monj2,” or the spacey, skittering rhythm of “Blem.” I’m reminded of Paradinas’s output on albums like Bluff Limbo, but without any of the grit or rawness; instead, that harder edge is substituted with a glossy sheen that updates the music and places it cozily up against his current contemporaries like Kuedo. And yet it’s still definitely got Paradinas’s fingerprints all over it, especially in its melodic sensibility.

The XTEP tracks feel more dancefloor-inspired and move more accordingly.The playful synths and fat bass of “XT” are just as joyous as some of his noisier 90s anthems or his hyperactive but majestic drum & bass flirtations. “Pulsar” is a much more overt dancefloor jam than I’ve heard from µ-Ziq in a while, and it’s infectious and effective, channeling the italo-disco mastery of synth pioneers like Alexander Robotnick.

While Chewed Corners felt rather focused and seemed to have a particular point of view, XTLP’s assorted tracks feel both harmonious and scattered, touching on a broader variety of styles and sounds but somehow sounding more exuberant and enthusiastic in the process. Collecting the two EPs together here, they work quite well as a dynamic body of work that feels mindfully present while unafraid to touch on the past in bold and rich ways.

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