Like broken glass on the sidewalk debris and clutter also dominate the music of µ-zig. After some years without a proper release under this moniker Mike Paradinas returns with a heavy and diverse album of electronic tracks that feature it all: harsh gabber, techno, even a little 2-step and drum’n’bass – all of it in true µ-zig style which means all mixed into one. This one is not for the faint-hearted nor for the party-people. Yet the album is dedicated to his kid. There is no point in denying that softer side, is there? Looking close enough at the noise and dirt piled upon the music, you’ll find that on “bilious paths” also.
I don’t know for sure, but it seems to me that Mike Paradinas aka µ-zig has been away for quite some time. Musically, that is, because his very own “Planet Mu”-records label seems to do fairly well, with over 80 releases in just about five years. True, µ-zig is a very prolific act in itself, so why not. So, do we call this a comeback? And does the title of the record tell us a lot about where he has been in all that time? I’d answer with a definite “maybe so”.
µ-zig is still a fan of various electroid styles, sampling and producing a wide array of drum-sounds for instance and using them all in one song, one after the other in only tiny segments. And he is still masterly skilful at producing a whole concrete atmosphere that way. From harsh and brutal beats with lots of distortion – check the beginning of “Siege of Antioch” for instance – to a multitude of almost alike yet strikingly different drumpatterns, you’ll get anything on “bilious paths”. You’ll find hints at old techno, at gabber, harsh breaks, scratching and big-time synthie-pads over and over again. The overall atmosphere, built from tiny bits into short segments and from there into parts of songs and then into whole tracks, which finally make up the whole record, is rather cold, chaotic, a little disturbed/-ing, like Tokio in winter. There is so much going on at any single point of time, that it gets a little distressing, I’d admit.
Which makes the record actually rather hard to listen to, because there is a lot that will rip you out of concentration, kick you in the groins and leave you bleeding. Yes, it is that hard a record. The soft moments are subdued and mixed into the back and only accessible through a vast wall of noises. For listening to this record, you’ll have to get into a state of mind that allows you to receive the whole record as one big piece of music. It is a mistake to try and dissect the tracks to understand them. This way, you won’t. Oh yeah, and don’t make it background music, either, because it won’t work that way. Suddenly you’ll realize, that behind all the noises and harsh electronics, the triggering of a new beat every other second or so, especially in the first songs on the album, there is an enormous melodiousness and funkiness. Get down to “On/Off” and its almost straight beat, simplicistic keyboard-lines – that are heaped one upon the other – and the weird vocals. Or the almost human beauty of “AEC Merlin”, and the harmonic chord-changes, which are of course broken up by various noises and a disfigured drum-rhythm. “Bilious paths” is no party-album, but it rocks hard anyway.
µ-zig has never been close to the dancefloors and therefore has more in common with Aphex Twin or Autechre, though why he never reached their size of fame is beyond me. Maybe because he is more the worker, more the obvious cut-up-electronician doing a job and not a self-styled and almost mystical figure of electronic artist. After his tour with Björk and the mega-seller (well, for this type of music) “Royal Astronomy” all the signs looked that way. Maybe he lost the track to his own hype, maybe he chose to turn to his label (and family) instead. Either way, if it lead to a record like this, then I don’t care. Which goes to show, once again, that history always proves us right.
- Various - The Cosmic Forces Of Mu
- Venetian Snares - Defluxion
- Venetian Snares & Speedranch - Making Orange Things
- Joseph Nothing - Dummy Variations
- Hrvatski - Swarm & Dither
- Mu Allstars - Criminal
- Hellfish & Producer - Constant Mutation (Mixed)
- Leafcutter John - Microcontact
- Nicole Elmer - Beef Bouilion
- Tim Tetlow - Beauty Walks A Razor's Edge
- Phthalocyanine - 25 Tracks Fer 1 Track
- Leafcutter John - Concourse E.E.P.
- Luke Vibert - '95-'99
- Jega - Geometry
- Capitol K - Roadeater E.P.
- Kid Spatula - Full Sunken Breaks
- Jega & Kid Spatula - Unity Gain / Hard Love
- Capitol K - Sounds Of The Empire
- Slag Boom Van Loon - So Soon
- Tusken Raiders - The Motorbike Track
- Slag Boom Van Loon - Slag Boom Van Loon
- Jega - Spectrum
- Horse Opera - 3 Cornered Room
- Capitol K - Island Row