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Zero 7 “The Garden” Review

Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

Who is Zero 7? Remember that one movie with that one perfectly placed song? If the movie you’re thinking about was Garden State, chances are you already know Zero 7. However in an attempt to change what might be perceived as the duo’s image stemming from the success of 2004’s When It Falls (and exposure through mediums such as movies) Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker moved their production out of London’s core and into Glastonbury. The thought was to also limit the level of collaboration in hopes of finding a grassroots sound, possibly even to find something they weren’t even looking for in the process. They needed change, and change they found. Reeling from the near-20 guest musicians that appeared on When It Falls, Binns and Hardaker made the simple addition of 2 for The Garden, long time collaborator Sia Furler and Swedish indie-hipster Jose Gonzales.

As an album The Garden is deceiving. It progressively becomes somewhat scattered and its musical meaning becomes less understandable. The lead-off track “Futures,” featuring Gonzales, and the Furler collaboration “Throw It All Away” influence the listener into developing certain expectations surrounding what is to follow. The two smooth, moody, coffee-shop rock feeling tracks are followed with a five minute departure into light, flowing electronica. “Seeing Things” reveals a movement closer to the electronic based music that follows, while still managing somewhat of a balance. The Garden is deceiving in that it manifests itself as a hybrid when you aren’t expecting it and introduces a variety of new sounds when it seems as though it is following a pattern. Even its concluding track “Waiting To Die” comes as somewhat unexpected as it is similar in feel to the album’s initial tracks. Somehow The Garden goes full circle without lending any sense of direction or indication as to how it was done.

In an attempt to find a balance that was lost with the recent surge in the duo’s popularity Zero 7 made a variety of lifestyle and musical changes which resulted in The Garden, too, finding balance. Limited collaboration allowed Binns and Hardaker to develop sounds truly identifiable to their current musical disposition and they did so in a crafty way which made it hard while enabling consistent seamless transitions. For whatever reasoning can be attributed to The Garden sounding as it does, Zero 7 have completed something not simply masterful, but enjoyable in the process.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]