Melo-Zed’s follow up 12-track EP, Zachary, channels the cacophony of sounds that characterises the How, What & Where roster. At times frantic, others deeply delicate, Melo-Zed’s latest offering is smooth and mature, a hazy maze where it’s easy to get lost.
Snippets of barber-shop talk mixed with thunderous drum loops capture a metropolitan mania — both the ups and downs —that reaches throughout the whole of Zachary. ‘Motor City Blue’ neatly frames this clash, cadenced by an exhausted groan before giving way to the light funk and hushed vocals of James Walker on ‘Savanah’. The lead single, ‘079’ featuring brisk bars from Lord Apex, retains this same manic-mellow divide, caught between hypotonic guitar loops and a dancing drumline.
Running a little looser than his more bassy label mates — Tek.Lun’s March collaboration with Mick Jenkins is certainly worth praising here —, tracks like ‘Grand Bay’, also featuring Walker, are a dreamy respite from the cacophony of samples vying for attention. Brevity sometimes works against Melo-Zed: ‘Promise the World, with its driving guitar rift supporting a cosmic assortment of spoken word and erratic electronic interjections feels on the cusp swelling into something brilliant but is extinguished before being fully realised.
Rather, it is in the longer, more fleshed out tracks where you get a deeper insight into Melo-Zed’s technical skill and instinct for a good hook. The afro-beat slow burner ‘You Deh Home’ is one of the EP’s hidden gems, a far cry from the elaborate tour of dense beats which populate the release.
A potent sequel to his 2018 debut, Zachary is a real showcase in dexterity and mood- making. Commenting on Twitter that the EP was just 12 of 351 beats made since Eleven, here’s hoping the rest will see the light of day.