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Positive Feedback ISSUE 50
july/august 2010


Zero 7
by Michael Mercer


zero 7

Record (Best of album), Atlantic Records

The majority of Best of albums are a scam; plain and simple. Bands that have barely left a mark have released Very Best of records/pop fodder in order to make the label more money (and band of course, making far less in most cases). While Zero 7 are not Brian Eno, they have graciously earned their stripes, therefore a proper Best of album was in order. Teaming up with Atlantic Records was just the icing on the cake (yes, there are some personal feelings thereóget over itóit doesn't detract from the legacy of the label).

Record (admittedly, in my opinion, a rather unoriginal name) is a superb compilation. Do you know when I came to that conclusion? My co-worker Paul (a man in his forties by the way) asked me about them about five minutes into listening to the record while I was at work.  I had just received the promo from Atlantic, and having heard about the label releasing the record, I was amped to hear it. Needless to say I did not get much work done that day. I have been a Zero 7 devotee since their stunningly brilliant debut album Simple Things; originally released on Mushroom Records in the U.K. back in 2001 (man, time flies, it's frightening sometimes) and distributed through Palm Pictures in the US. This was a truly indie band, before the term became a pop culture tagline (lets not forget; many of the bands promoting the virtues of independency today have major labels to thank for their continued success). Zach Braff actually helped introduced them to the record buying masses via his Grammy-Award winning Garden State soundtrack in 04 (though they had certainly broken before then). 7's masterfully cascading "In the Waiting Line" (track #12 on Record) was the perfect sonic backdrop to a killer house party scene; featuring adults playing spin the bottle while drifting on ecstasy and cocaine.

Their music has jumped from chill-out acid jazz (Simple Things) to Morcheeba-like, bumpy ambient disco (09's Yeah Ghost) and they have done so with grace. Record is a glorious looking glass into some of their best work. The key to a solid Best of compilation is sequencing (unless the music is so hot it makes no difference). Zero 7 and Atlantic absolutely nailed it with Record (again, excluding the title perhaps). This is an album for the most loyal fans, as well as the great un-Zero'd. This record (oops, see, there's the problem with the title right there) could please fans of LTJ Bukem, Morcheeba, Arab Strap, Portishead and releases on such labels as Waveform and Hearts of Space. It's mood music for meditating your way out of the rat race. Had a rough day at the office? Check out the hovering, blippy synth lines and floating melodies on "You're My Flame". Their sound is fluid and textural, the kind of music you play while spending downtime with dear friends, getting loose, and forgetting about the never-ending stack of bills.  Get online and check Zero 7 out if that sounds like your cup of tea.

* While this album has already been released in the U.K, it is about to be released here on July 20th.

** There were also advantages to purchasing the album through iTunes in the U.K (additional tracks, like remixes and such) but I'm not sure what the additional digital offerings are here in the states.