With his 2009 debut Where Were You In ’92, Zomby bowed before the British hardcore rave scene that shaped his identity. Such a forward-thinking artist adopting such a thoroughly reverent approach left a small legion of fans unsure of where the mysterious producer would go next. Though the title of his latest betrays a similar sort of reverence, Dedication is no genre piece. Skipping through 16 tracks in 35 minutes, it’s the work of a singular artist probing the extremities of gloomy dance music and lo-fi electronics, seldom letting an idea fully bloom before moving on to the next one.
Still, the album does cohere. For all his ADD tendencies, Zomby knows how to sequence. Most impressively, the solemn piano that propels the late-album track “Haunted” takes center stage as it segues into the poignant “Basquiat,” itself a sign that Zomby can transcend the dank dubstep scene and venture into high-culture territory.
Because it’s 2011, Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox is called on to lend his sun-scorched vocals to the undulating digitalia of “Things Fall Apart,” but in tribute to Dedication, it’s far from the album’s lone crossover-worthy moment. That honor goes to “Natalia’s Song,” a gorgeously gothic track that flips a vocal sample from a recent Russian pop hit. Like the rest of Dedication, it nods at the dance floor, but prefers to be admired at a distance.