March 4, 2004

Test Spin: Zero 7

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Crafting music to beautiful vocals seems to have created a mighty fine niche for itself in the pop arena as of late. I almost think that a new genre of music has emerged out of the producer/singer collaboration. Yet Zero 7, comprised of producers Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker, ditch the more popular electronica and club approach for a laid back soulful alternative. The duo produced a highly stylized and polished ambient sound in their latest album When it Falls. The overall sense of airy fluidity and mellow mood is due in part to Binns and Hardaker’s brilliant orchestrations, but also to the exceptional vocals. Each of the talented singers showcased on the disc brings their own depth and element to the reflective lyrics. Vocalist Sophie Baker and the others breathe life into the ethereal phrasing. (You might be happy to know that a lot of the singers featured on the disc including Baker are releasing solo projects as well.)

Zero 7 creates poetry in meaningful and introspective lines such as those found in “Home”: “Wrapped in silent elegance / Beautifully broken down / As illusions burst