Release Date: Sep 18, 2012
Record label: Planet Mu
Scottish producer Rudi Zygadlo's 2010 debut, Great Western Laymen, was a dizzying, kaleidoscopic affair, an even more overstuffed, color-saturated elaboration on the maximalist "wonky" school of fellow Glaswegians Rustie and Hudson Mohawke. Although it could be almost as easily filed under prog and/or pop, it had a recognizable (albeit strained-to-bursting) dubstep current running through even its most iconoclastic tracks. While (thankfully) more focused, Tragicomedies is -- almost unimaginably -- an even odder fish; forgoing any dancefloor pretensions (and most "beats" altogether) and drawing most of its sonic material from keyboards, voice, and strings, it's difficult to even soundly classify as electronica, let alone anything more precisely descriptive.
Rudi Zygadlo is a funny one. The Glaswegian vocalist and multi-instrumentalist's second album Tragicomedies is a maze of confusion, contradiction, and epiphany. Don't get me wrong, it's good-- vastly superior to his 2010 debut effort, Great Western Laymen-- yet it requires a patient ear, because to fully engage is to embrace the aural equivalent of a carpet being pulled out from underneath you over and over again.
Theater is a fascinating medium because of its overt plasticity. The “fakeness” is to be subverted and overcome by the performers with emotive if not exaggerated gestures and monologues. Theater and the act of acting in theater is a meditation on the human condition — one’s potency in performance allows for transcendence beyond the “plastic” surroundings and fixed stage.
No longer shackled to the James Blake emo-dubstep fusion that fleshed out his 2010 debut, Great Western Laymen, Rudi Zygadlo incorporates a plethora of seemingly incongruous influences into his developing vision. Tragicomedies sees the Glaswegian producer dropping cerebral lyrics softened by sweet melodies over lush arrangements hinting at styles from the first half of the 20th century and earlier, from early rock to folk and classical. As Zygadlo's production has a more polished execution, seamlessly integrating organic and synthetic sounds with greater variety, his growing confidence in his electro-crooning vocals is obvious.
A personal, intimate success for the evolving Scottish producer. Noel Gardner 2012 Moving to Berlin might be the 21st-century artist’s equivalent of 17th-century pilgrims sailing to the future United States. Not as many hand-wringing colonialist issues to tackle, granted, but at this point it's reasonable to expect to find a bar or club in the German capital where one can have a lucid conversation without command of the native language.