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A Magazine for Sheffield

Grupo Zygote

There’s an inherent creepy factor in jazz music. I don’t mean this in the adverse reaction people have to the genre’s solipsistic nature, as my bluster is more directed towards the jarring chord changes that test the patience of both the newcomer and the well-travelled fan.

Now, library music is usually the go-to stock music used when either you can’t afford a composer or your creative team has a Douglas Camfield vs BBC Radiophonic sized feud.

How do these relate? Well, enter Dr. Zygote and his new album, Grupo Zygote, an album that mixes a very palatable side of jazz with library music.

Don’t think of library music as ‘interchangeable muzak’. Sure, they will be made to fit a general mood, but evoking several moods? That’s the hard part. So when songs include bracketed descriptions and pull said descriptions off accurately, you know someone did their homework.

‘Alexandria’, for example, is listed as “Mediterranean, Arabesque, Transient”. The tense piano and drum progression make it feel like an exotic montage in both a heist film and a spy film. ‘Dragon Chase’ is “Tense, Pursuit, Spacey” and could work in a videogame like The Getaway or in a footchase sequence involving leisure suited people.

There’s a clear influence from the often overlooked soundtracks of horror and Mondo films that later got branded “videonasties” by the prudes of our society. ‘Giallo’ certainly doesn’t hide its intentions, with the eerie keyboard drones, sparse bass and the otherworldly tape echoes, a staple sound throughout this album.

‘Beirut Dub’ is certainly the catchier track from this collection, with a buzzing drone that waxes and wanes in volume while distant percussions are banged. With that said, ‘Loose’, the final track, is the clear alpha in this pack, lacking only a high-pitched Theremin to make the trip back in time perfect.

Not only would this album work as the flavoursome soundtrack for a 70s film noir, but it also stands with its head above the ground with other musicians like Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra and Roy Budd. If Fantômas’ The Director’s Cut ever made you wonder, “What if Mike Patton didn’t drink coffee for one day?” well, Dr. Zygote’s Grupo Zygote is the answer.