Zero 7: Record

RIYL: Alan Parsons Project, Radiohead, Jose Gonzalez

Zero 7, the collaborative effort between two esteemed producers, Sam Hardaker and Henry Binns, keeps chugging along with some of the most intriguing electronic mood pop out there. So it should be no surprise that when the two went back into their catalog to put a “best of” collection together for Zero 7, they had a difficult task – choosing the most awesome tracks out of an already awesome catalog. But maybe the best part of all with the final product, humbly titled Record, is that Hardaker and Binns did not choose the obvious tracks -and that alone makes Record a pretty special collection. Sure, there are the standouts like “Futures,” sung by the remarkable Jose Gonzalez; the bouncy “Throw it All Away,” and the dreamy “Home,” one of the best Zero 7 tracks of all. But then the duo dig a bit deeper into the likes of the jazz-flavored “I Have Seen,” the soulful “Destiny,” sung by the sultry Sia; and “Swing,” the best track from their latest album The Garden. There are also some tasty instrumentals here, like “Polaris” and “Salt Water Sound.” All in all, you’d have a hard time making your own Zero 7 iTunes mix that turns out this sweet. Instead, just like with the music itself, it’s better to leave this one to the experts. (Atlantic 2010)

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Zero 7: Yeah Ghost

RIYL: Radiohead, Jose Gonzalez, Sneaker Pimps

Zero 7 is a project more than a band – so while Zero 7 tours as a group and has actual band members, it’s still technically the brainchild of British producers Sam Hardaker and Henry Binns. And some of those “band members” are rotated out every album or so. Once you get a grasp on that, it doesn’t take much effort to like what Zero 7 is doing. And on their fourth album, Yeah Ghost, there is still the same electronica-driven pop, but with a few added dimensions this time around. In particular, singers Eska and Martha Tilston are new to the project, rounding out a lineup that includes a few regulars like Eddie Stevens, Tom Skinner and Robin Mullarkey. After a subtle opening instrumental, “Count Me Out,” there are some bouncy dance tracks, with Eska’s power-meets-soul vocal at the forefront of awesome tracks like “Medicine Man” and “Mr. McGee.” “Pop Art Blue” features Tilston’s folky timbre and there are some fine, if quirky, instrumentals, like the haunting “Solastalgia.” But the best track on here is “Swing,” an uber-catchy ditty that still has the Zero 7 “chill” trademark – and a song that immediately has the feel of an iPod commercial. This may not be the best Zero 7 album yet, but it’s not a huge regression, either. (Atlantic 2009)

Zero 7 MySpace Page