μ-ZIQ: Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique (Planet-μ)


Posted on Sep 28th 2007 01:07 pm

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μ-Ziq: Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique

Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique
Planet-μ 2007
17 Tracks. 59mins58secs

It’s no secret that Mike Paradinas’ alias μ-Ziq has reached legend status in the world of experimental electronic dance music. Even Paradinas himself labels his μ-Ziq work “classic” on the Planet-μ website, and rightfully so. Along with Richard D. James, Luke Vibert, and other luminaries, μ-Ziq’s prodigiously playful releases have guided electronic music through a plethora of different styles, from the ambient techno of 1993’s Tango N’ Vectif to the rapid-fire drill n’ bass of 1997’s Lunatic Harness.

In 2002, Paradinas released Bilious Paths, his first μ-Ziq album on his own label. An exhilarating victory lap, it showed that μ-Ziq could continue to be a relentlessly cutting edge force, while still building upon a classic structure. Unfortunately, the mouthful-titled Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique is the first true misstep in his vast output.

It starts out promisingly enough, as Prough Seemness launches with tweaked-out percussion, soon joined by a sticky bass line and a detuned minor melody. Paradinas is focusing on his earlier, more ambient sound – gone are the drill n’ bass workouts of his late nineties albums. Duntisbourne Abbots follows the same formula; while neither track is very complicated, their simple-yet-satisfying structures do not disappoint. With Dexedrine Girl, however, it becomes clear that the modus operandi this time around is to produce short, unfinished-sounding tracks, relying on the same narrow pool of detuned synth patches and menacing bass sounds.

The main issue here is, it just doesn’t sound like Paradinas is trying as hard as listeners are used to. Much of the album feels like hastily assembled demos; the melodies rarely flesh out to something truly satisfying. Additionally, the phoned-in percussion does little to enhance most of the tracks. At its best, Duntisbourne simply does away with percussion, and focuses more on ambient techno melodies. At its worst, however, the same staid, unwavering drum loops are placed almost as an afterthought – it’s sad to realize that this is the same musicians who was once known particularly for his abrasive, inventive drum programming.

Duntisbourne isn’t a complete failure, however; no matter how little attention to detail Paradinas lent to this set, he’s still a brilliant musician at heart. Strawberry Fields Hotel and Rise Of The Salmon both build to satisfying climaxes, avoiding the pitfall of aimlessness that infects much of the album. There’s an excellent EP’s worth of material buried in this mess. It appears, though, that Paradinas is either in a rut, or over composing for the time being (one track is tellingly titled Old & Tired). Ultimately, it’s disappointing to hear such a standard-bearer sound so disinterested, but, as the brighter moments of Duntisbourne illustrate, it would be foolish to give up on μ-Ziq.


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11 Responses to “μ-ZIQ: Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique (Planet-μ)”

  1. Twoism2on 28 Sep 2007 at 8:41 pm

    Pulled out Lunatic harness the other day, what a fantastic album! Brace yourself Jason…..

  2. unhoton 04 Oct 2007 at 4:00 pm

    Yep, pretty much agree with David – after listening it sounded like the usual sound structures, that we have heard in the past going back to the dawn of his career, with little straining with those tools to map out new territories.

    Failures can be exciting, especially when they strive for something grand. This is not the case here.

    This release left the same kind of taste as James’ Drukqs – all the architecture for a inspiring building is there, but it seems contracted out to people who either have no quality control, are rushed, or who merely do not care.

  3. mortaldon 23 Nov 2008 at 6:34 pm

    I disagree with the above review. I think this work has some real heart. Give it another, more thoughtful, listen.

  4. themilkmanon 26 Nov 2008 at 1:10 am

    I must admit that I was very disapointed with this album came out, but I haven’t managed to enjoy it since. It feels really rushed and seriously lacking of substance, unlike most of Mike’s work. I have tried to go back to it, but it is still not doing it for me.

  5. Daaron 01 Dec 2008 at 1:34 pm

    I find this release relaxing and full of beautiful synth lines, it’s just different from other μ-ZIQ albums, 3.5 out 5 man, at least!

  6. Headphone Commuteon 05 Dec 2008 at 1:21 pm

    After some negative feedback from my friends, I didn’t even bother picking this up, as I’m afraid of having negative vibes towards Mike whom I followed all through his career. Better stay focused on his label, which is pushing quiet an interesting roster of idm-meets-dubstep these days…

  7. themilkmanon 06 Dec 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Planet Mu is certainly going from strength to strength, but I’m sure Mike’s got some more brillant albums in him. I was listening to the double CD version of Tango yesterday and thought how great it still sounds now. I then got onto his Jake Slazenger Makesaracket album which is one of my favourite of his. Royal Astronomy was also dug out for a spin. An bit of a Mike P day really. I still think my favourite of his is the album he did with Richard D James though. One of them apparently said that this was what happened when you did too much drugs, but it is one of the most playful electronic albums I know.

  8. kyleon 17 Dec 2008 at 5:13 am

    I had a similar reaction as the reviewer upon first listen but have come to appreciate the album. Granted, it isn’t especially ground breaking, it reminds me of some old Autechre stuff in places or some of his early work like Ad Misericordiam.

    Though I really enjoy some of the “detuned” melodies. One note in a melody will seem to bend at a steady rate to match a later note in the melody. Everything may have been done before but I don’t feel like Paradinas is beating anything into the ground with these, slightly more minimalist, pieces.

    The album is very cohesive as a whole and happens to be one of few of his albums where I won’t skip some tracks, writing them off as failed experiments. At the same time it’s hard to say any one track on this album is actually better than Siege of Antioch, Brace Yourself Jason, Meinheld, Catkin and Teasel, Secret Stair 1&2, Hasty Boom Alert, Carpet Muncher, 56, My Menegegus, or any of my other “fav” u-ziq tracks.

  9. David Abravanelon 22 Dec 2008 at 11:49 pm

    It’s interesting to look back on this album a year later. I think the album certainly has a theme, but I wouldn’t necessarily label it cohesive as it’s too long and tends to get lost on some mediocre ideas.

    Kyle, I’m intrigued by your classification of these pieces as “minimalist.” I considered that possible intent when original writing the review, but ultimately could not escape the feeling that Paradinas just didn’t put as much into these. Of course, I could be 100% wrong on this, but compared to Bilious Paths, which was such a strong and captivating release, I’m thoroughly puzzled as to how Duntisbourne could be the follow-up.

    And the statement about it being foolish to give up on Mike Paradinas still stands. I put on Meast by Kid Spatula earlier today and he has this knack for putting soul in digital synths.

  10. Headphone Commuteon 23 Dec 2008 at 12:56 am

    Sigh… so am I going to have to hunt this down and give it a proper listen? Like I said earlier, I was avoiding it at all costs to avoid being totally let down…

  11. IDMer2000on 14 Jun 2009 at 11:56 am

    Eh..the thing that the author praised Mu for was being at the forefront and like Aphex trying different things. Some of us arent tied into the pop scene and enjoy the occasional dark album and this is one of them. If you understand the background. the split from his partner hence the name of some tracks you understand his mood at time of writing. This will go on to be another classic and rightly so. I’d give this 4 out of 5 easy…..oh well heres waiting for Plaids new release