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Album Review: Zomby - Ultra

By Tanner Bidish, Contributor

[Hyperdub; 2016]

Rating: 5.5/10

Key Tracks: "Sweetz," "Fly 2"

The release of Zomby’s Ultra sees the UK producer’s first full length album in three years as well as a return to his old label, Hyperdub. The album offers a blend of UK garage, eski-grime, and jungle that is quintessential in Zomby’s EDM sound. Five featured artists also add some interesting variety. It’s still not enough to pull Ultra into a great or exciting work. The album is full of odd musical decisions that don’t envelop the listener into a vibe or bop, but rather disorient and leaves you with a lacking sensation.

The tracks with featured artists are what pick this record up the most. “Sweetz” (which features Burial) offers intense vocal samples layered with subtle static under the beats. It’s the longest track here, and feels the most complete with appropriate highs and lows. Another notable feature, “Fly 2” brings us Banshee contributing some glitch R&B vocals that complement the track well. Sadly, unmotivated tempo changes pull this track back from its full potential, which can be heard on tracks like “Glass.”

While poor use of tempo changes brings down certain tracks, a lack of any at all is equally as damaging in others. “Burst” and “Her” are repetitive to a point of boredom with hardly any introduction of new sounds past an establishing beat. Tracks like “Freeze” and “Yeti” are varied unto themselves but don’t stand out from each other. Their placement next to each other doesn’t feel like a coherent flow of one song to the next. They sound more like a long take that didn’t develop into anything great.

Ultra is good, but it doesn’t develop into something more than that. Many tracks lack the polish that could’ve made this record shine. Ultimately the final product doesn’t feel cohesive and keeps its momentum primarily on the backs of other artists.

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