Zuli - Numbers

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  • I interviewed Zuli in 2015 about his founding role in the Cairo club VENT. He'd been making music for a while by then, and Lee Gamble had started playing some of his weirder tracks on NTS. But it would take another year for him to emerge as a node in a global network of IDM innovators. (Gamble's UIQ label has pins in the map on Riga, Budapest, Tokyo and Glasgow.) Numbers is more skilled and confident than Zuli's previous UIQ EP, Bionic Ahmed, but it's equally spaced-out, jetting off from rhythmic zones into the strange and ominous unknown. Sometimes the Cairene's ideas are too far-out. On "Tongue Chomper," with its stumbling drums and volatile chords, the centre doesn't hold, while "Foam Home" is a viscous goo disguised as music, clinging to your limbs and dragging you into its sideways universe. Stabler tracks often reference grime and hip-hop. (Zuli has made beats for Arabic MCs as Swag Lee.) Grime-like loping kicks underpin "What You Do," where they take a periodic dousing from IDM chords. "Bow!" has hip-hop's halftime slouch and cone-busting bass, getting more unhinged until disintegrating in the breakdown. Zuli's breakdowns are often Salvador Dalí-style meltings, surreal moments of illogic from which his tracks never fully recover. "CommProto" is techno, albeit fashioned from martian dust. Throughout these tracks voices work as bizarre punctuation, entering in crowds, shouting and babbling in a strange alien tongue, and leaving just as abruptly. Zuli foregrounds the technique on "She's Hearing Voices," a set piece for processed choir accompanied by gaseous Actress-style chords. His singers seem to be backmasked, pitch-shifted and granulated all at once. Every now and then a tortured sounding "yeeeaahhhh" erupts from the confusion, issued from a throat no human could possess.
  • Tracklist
      A1 Bow! A2 CommProto A3 She’s Hearing Voices B1 What You Do B2 Tongue Chomper B3 Foam Home