The British producer μ-Ziq has been an inspiration to label co-founders Albert Salinas and Philip Sherburne since the 1990s. In fact, his album-length remix project The Auteurs Vs μ-Ziq was one of the very first pieces of electronic music that Philip bought, way back in 1994. To have the opportunity to release his music now feels like a real full-circle moment. Paradinas, of course, needs no introduction. Under a slew of aliases, chief among them μ-Ziq, the British artist revolutionized leftfield electronic music in the 1990s — coincidentally, this year marks the 30th anniversary of his debut album, Tango N’ Vectif, for his friend and sometime collaborator Aphex Twin‘s Rephlex label — and his label Planet Mu has built up a formidable catalog of visionary, forward-looking records, mapping virtually every corner of the electronic spectrum. With 1977, he turns the clock backward in a sense, and not just with the album’s title: Rooted in classic ambient and electronic sounds, these 15 tracks evoke the anything-goes spirit of the early ’90s, before the tools and tropes had calcified into cut-and-dried styles. There’s no shortage of familiar sounds on 1977. There are echoes of raves and chillout rooms and transmissions from the fringes of techno; there are detuned synths and glistening reverb tails and, above all, gauzy vox pads, the eerie glue that holds it all together. The title, he says, is meant to invoke a general sense of nostalgia, bookmarking a year in his boyhood when he became more self-aware. More than anything, 1977 sounds like μ-Ziq distilled: Stripped of his signature breakbeats and customary chaos, Paradinas’s first-ever strictly (well, mostly) ambient album presents the essence of his music in a whole new light. Along the way Paradinas touches on dark-ambient drones (“Marmite”), horror-film themes (“Belt & Carpet”), jungle breaks (“Mesolithic Jungle”), and even house music (“Houzz 13”), which marks the first bona fide dance-floor moment on Balmat to date). Yet the album never feels expressly retro. Rather, Paradinas plucks timeless sounds out of the ether and gives them a gentle tap, spinning them into unexpected new orbits. At times, 1977 feels like an experience of extended déjà vu: When we first listened to it, we had the sense that we already knew this music. It was as though we had heard it years ago, perhaps on a battered cassette tape lent to us by a friend, and been searching for it ever since. “1977” features Meemo Comma.
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