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Suzi Analogue - ZONEZ V.4 (Suzi Analogue Recordings, 2019)

A musical journey from one of electronic music's most innovative producers.

Suzi Analogue has always been an artist that defies definition, in almost all aspect. An impeccable producer, a merger of sounds, a celebrator and champion of the underground, she doesn’t just conform to idealistic notions, she wholly rejects them and makes powerful music that cuts deep and pounds hard on the floor. Her discography reads like a landscape of musical landmarks, full of intrigue and wonder, only waiting to be discovered by the listener. On every release, she takes the listener deep inside this landscape, from the superb depths of ‘ZONEZ V.3’ (that contained one the tunes of 2016, ‘Numba 1’ feat. Jax), and before then V.2, to the drum and bass excellence of ‘Love Affairz V.1’. Analogue is one of many producers doing the rounds on 90s sounds from both sides of the pound, and blending them with contemporary experimental electronica, but her style shines above, due to its uniqueness, attention to detail, and a treasure trove of influences dripping in production genius. Her features list also deserves a huge mention, working alongside footwork legends like DJ Earl and RP Boo, to introducing new talents such as Oyinda and ZenSoFly. The diversity of collaborators again highlights the range of her albums, and this only adds to their allure.

‘ZONEZ V.4’ starts off with a chuggy number, ‘2DEEP’ featuring Junglepussy. It is a kind of downtempo 2 step drum and bass vibe, taking some styles from speed garage and blending them with footwork break downs and trap style drums. All the while, Junglepussy’s voice reverberates, ‘I am too deep’, and powerfully repeats over an intelligently worked and pulsating rhythm (thats all you can call). ‘HeadheidHi’ comes next, featuring the vocals of Nappy Nappa. Akin to the opener, it chugs along nicely, with choppy beats reminiscent of footwork beats, but slowed down and more about nodding your head hard, rather than moving your feet as fast as possible. A nice chip tune synth line works well alongside a thudding synth groove. Both these tunes show their true colours through slight drum pattern changes, and this adds enormously to the energy. In the club, or at home, that power is felt. ‘WAY LIVE’ comes next, and slows proceedings down. ZenSoFly chips in with some hearty yet well executed bars, with a swelling synth line underneath just waiting to be released. Cymbals draw the listener in, with Zen’s voice gaining traction, before a classic footwork beat from the gods kicks in. The build up perfect, the vocals excellently placed, hyperdrive is achieved. Such subtleties sometimes get overlooked within the genre, but Analogue here serves up a well cooked and well timed tune that delivers on all fronts.

‘NNO Apology’ kicks in next, and starts off with a synth line that is a reminder of the tender emotive music that Analogue can do so well. A deep voice, that of Michael Millions, dips and ducks over the music beneath, pushing the track forward hard and deep. Its nice how the first two tracks worked well together, almost building to this more footwork part of the album. This one contains more melodies and break downs, but does as much as the previous track to create an excellent sense of rhythm. Move your feet, yes yes! Then before you know, comes a hard hitting Crystal Castle esq banger, ‘LOUDR’. Synth overload, energy kicking driven noise sort of tune, it kicks and rolls with the punches. Up next, ‘Best 16’, jumps into life as a downtempo tune. Its quite nice, as with the rule of pairs so far with this record, that Analogue finds further space for the music to breathe, with two contrasting yet musically diverse tunes. Then, in comes some nice drum and bass kicks, driving the song even further, with the melodic development a nice way of the tracks evolution. Just when this genre bending album seemingly couldn’t go any further, up comes ‘Theme Song’ with Jacks. Very the Bug, it is hypnotic, it is rhythmic, the MC doing a stellar job at creating a intense level of energy. At 2 minutes long, the song doesn’t burn out, simply a flash in the pan of awesome dancehall hype.

Towards the business end of the record, RP Boo guests on ‘SHES GONNA’. Footwork but not as we know it, the two work effortlessly together, perhaps a representation of their shared love of experimentation and exploring the unknown. Familiar elements float around, but a real delightful series of sparse stabs balance out the feet machine underneath. ‘Stay Ready/ Ur Dreamz’ is a step down energy wise, with its deep kick drum laying down a solid foundation for swirling synths and vocals to jump around in and out of your ear holes. Euphoric, a great crowd burner, a real close your eyes moment. There is always one of those on a Suzi Analogue album. ‘MUY RAPIDO’ ft JWords starts the business end of the record, and tells an interesting story musically. The vocals push and groove around, with pulsating drums giving the track a real sense of urgency. Never stopping for a pause, it just keeps going, breaths at a minimum, but there is a real urge to ask for it to not stop. To cap it all off, ‘BREAKTHRU’ does a fantastic job. Ablely assisted by Oyinda on vocals, Analogue creates one more dense soundscape to get lost in. Deep and bassy, it shares similar stylings to early UKF releases, with that throbbing bass line going right for the heart strings. A fitting end to a fantastic record, full of twists and turns, musical escapes, and feet stompers.

Suzi Analogue stands out among the vast sea of electronic producers. It is perhaps her genre defying style that helps her music speak volumes, but it is done so well, so meticulously, that there isn’t any complaints of over reach or not doing that well. Many have fallen in that instant, but it is one of the many things to celebrate about Analogue and her music. Not only that, but she blends in her guests superbly, with each track almost tailored to their style, be it rapping, toasting, or singing. These relationships elevate Analogues tracks certainly, with each guest contributing. But it all boils down to the brainchild, and this keeps us coming back for more, time and time again. Analgoue’s ZONEZ series could continue on for a life time, as she has no ends to this triumphant musical journey. Until the next time, Mrs Analogue. Eagerly awaiting would be an understatement.

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