320 S.E. Second Ave.
May 5 – 8 p.m.
$12 advance at Fastixx – all ages
The North London duo of Henry Binns and Sam Hardakar who are Zero 7 may at first seem like some overnight sensation who just happen to be another pair of hot “chilled out” producers capitalizing on the hip craze, but there’s no way a couple of neophytes could have produced an album as polished and special as their 2001 debut release, Simple Things. With delightful strings, deep basslines and some of the most quietly soulful vocals and instrumentation we’ve heard since maybe the peak of soul music’s “Philadelphia sound” all moving to a steady beat, the hype is appropriate and well-earned.
Binns and Hardakar were amongst many so-called “tea boys” who worked doing anything for London studios, trying to get an opportunity to make music themselves, learning the craft and ins and outs of producing. This is where they first met Nigel Godrich, who has produced albums by well-respected artists such as Radiohead and Travis. So after setting up their own studio after years of working for others, Binns and Hardakar got the opportunity they needed, doing a remix of Radiohead’s “Climbing Up The Walls” from their influential 1997 album OK Computer.
Even though they didn’t come at all from rock backgrounds – Binns comes more from soul and jazz while Hardakar from hip-hop – they appreciated an opportunity when they saw one, and they took full advantage, creating a dub-heavy version that still very much captured the emotional essence of the original. Radiohead and everybody’s mum loved it, and they were on the map.
They released their first EP in early 2001, which was limited to only 1000 copies and sold out immediately. They returned a few months later with Simple Things, which was first released on Ultimate Dilemma (and now Palm Pictures in the U.S.) and has gone gold in the U.K., as well as producing a top 30 single “Destiny,” an atmospheric folky number with lush choral arrangements. The disc has generated much excitement since its release here in the fall, in addition to a supremely selected mix CD they compiled as part of the Another Late Night series on Kinetic Records (see Vanguard review, April 17, 2002).
For the past year they have been on tour almost non-stop, playing all of the big festivals last summer in Europe (such as The Big Chill, Montreux and Sonar). This year they have hit the road in the U.S. and Canada with an 11 piece band, which remarkably includes all three of the spectacular voices featured on the record – Mosez, Sia Furler and Sophie Baker – bringing a new live dimension to the sometimes stagnant “downtempo” DJ/producer scene that they are so often lumped with, even if they wouldn’t see themselves in such constructions. This show will be one of the last in North America, and so they should be in fine form, as they have been playing to sold-out audiences and rave reviews so far.
The excitement continues to build for Zero 7, and the possibilities seem to be infinite for this duo. Their incredible mood-setting soul for the new age is beyond ideas of retro. Be prepared to max and relax in a state of awesome bliss as they develop their own unique sounds while you unwind on Sunday at the end of the weekend. No matter where your musical tastes lie, you will be captivated by the Zero 7 and find beauty in the simple things – music, life and love.