ZULI - All Caps

  • ZULI lost all his gear, and then made his best record yet.
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  • "Oh my God! This has Egyptian music all over it. I love the Arabic fusion, bro," says one voice on "Bro! (Love It)," after ZULI slows down the track and brings in a recording of a band. Then he retools it, before another voice interrupts: "Excuse me, what happened to the North African music you were playing?" Suddenly ZULI speeds up the sample, bringing it to the kind of jungle-inspired, high-octane madness we're used to from him. The track works as a subtle commentary on the kind of music that the Cairo producer is expected to make—and how people read into his work—but it's also dazzling, even whiplash-inducing, going from fast to slow to fast to slow to really, really fast. And it's probably the calmest track on All Caps. This new EP was borne from less than ideal circumstances, but ZULI has made a triumph out of it. He started All Caps as a quick-and-dirty follow-up to his debut album, 2018's Terminal, then all his gear was stolen (including his sound and sample libraries). The only track he salvaged was "Penicillin Duck," which makes a good introduction to All Caps: completely bonkers sample-chopping and microscopic drum dicing at an impossibly fast clip. It sounds like the sequel to "Trigger Finger," somehow more confident, more focused and also more hectic. On All Caps, ZULI takes breakcore-infused IDM ("Penicillin Duck"), jungle ("Where Do You Go") and footwork ("Bassous") as the starting point for remarkable experimentation. Sure, you might think that description just sounds like all his other records, but there's something new here, a laser-sharp accuracy. Much of the textural play of past work—those earthquake breakdowns or waves of distortion—is replaced by a new kind of volatile energy, built on movement and velocity. The new EP works like harnessing the energy from a spinning hydro turbine. It's difficult to imagine sitting at a computer and making these intricate and chaotic tracks without freaking the fuck out. And yet freaking out is what All Caps seems designed to make you do. This is wave after wave of relentless beat science, coming faster than you can properly register it. You'll have to listen again and again, and at no point does its roller coaster ride become less exhilarating. It might even make you laugh (as on "Bro! (Love It)"). Though there's hardly ever a breather or a moment of reflection, All Caps is the kind of bold, daring club music that can make you feel a whole spectrum of emotions, all through the power of rhythm—as filtered by someone who truly understands its endless possibilities.