When I first heard Zero 7’s now-classic EP 2 in March, and 2000, physician little did I know that nearly 6 months later, after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, that I’d revisit the record with much more necessity, using it to buffer a lot of what was happening in the world around Brooklyn. The mood was as you could expect it then — tense, frightening, nervous, melancholy — and people were collectively on edge. Music is often panacea but it was never as needed as it was after a life-altering event like that.
Maybe that’s why I overlooked the studio sheen of UK producers Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker, normally shying away from such studied sonic perfection. After all, I like my beats like my lady loves her martinis: really fucking dirty. 5 years later, I’m still singing the duo’s praises however, as they forge ahead and make some of the finest, most enduring downtempo soul in the past decade (even Zack Braff knows about the magic!). People love to dog downtempo for its smooth edges and its seemingly nouveau-riche apathy, but fuck that. The fact is that there are simply times when Slayer, Aphex Twin or Biggie just doesn’t fit. And Zero 7, more than the hundreds of acts that came before and after, have figured out exactly just how much foreground they need in their background music. That’s when they fit.
RIYL: Air, Kings of Convenience, Tommy Guerrero, Koushik, Neil Halstead, Syd Matters