Zero 7

Losing longtime vocal collaborator Sia must have forced Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker of Zero 7 to reformulate their music. While they have spent their career employing guest singers for their trip-hop songs, it was really Sia’s raw and emotive vocals that put Zero 7’s opulent music on the map. For this year’s Yeah Ghost, Binns and Hardaker brought in British-Zimbabwean powerhouse Eska Mtungwazi – while Zero 7’s familiar sound has always been a mixture of sleepy and sexy, Mtungwazi brings a crackling energy to the new songs. Yeah Ghost has a heavy focus on the rhythm section, with its tight drum beats and steady bass lines, and Mtungwazi’s flexible vocals bounce right along with the melodies. Still, the record’s greatest success is the single, “Everything Up (Zizou),” which features Binns himself on vocals, jubilantly singing “Yes we can, imagine it if you can.” In the past, Binns has expressed his reluctance to sing, but his sweet-sounding voice lends a certain ease to that warm sound that made Zero 7 such a wonder in the first place. With Phantogram. E. THOMPSON

Sat., Dec. 12, 8 p.m., 2009

 
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