[sic] Magazine

ZekeUltra – (The Power Of) The Will Of Man

(The Power Of) The Will Of Man is ZekeUltra‘s debut physical album release and is out on the ever reliable Home Assembly Music label, based in West Yorkshire. ZekeUltra has released a number of other digital-only albums – including last year’s Base Camp III.

ZekeUltra’s Delaware sound is a million miles from the sound usually associated with West Yorkshire. In the main, it’s a dark, slightly uneasy listen. The music has a laid-back and slightly discordant krautrock, synth vibe straddling several tracks, but also a late-night soul/jazz club feel across several other tracks. In short, there’s a definite retro sound across the entire album. Mixed with a slow drawl of vocals, the album works well.

The vocals are clever, very direct and occasionally heartfelt; sometimes the language might be a little too close for comfort for some, but ZekeUltra certainly gets his point across and carries a message like a cat about to enter a fight down the street in the middle of the night.

Case in point – ‘Hurts’, the opening track on side B, is a masterclass in pulling the heartstrings and trying to right previous wrongs. Similarly, ‘Okinawa’ contains an angry outpouring – “Oh God Damn! – not here / Babe I wanna f**k you – but not here!”. I can only dread to wonder what “here” looks like in this scenario…

The instrumentation is a melting pot of samples from soul, jazz, electronic and whatever the hell fits, basically. Whilst the tempo rarely slips into fifth gear, there’s a steady feel to the overall sound of the album that is easy to warm to.

This is late-night basement music that effortlessly manages to squeeze a lot out of a little. I have no idea what ZekeUltra’s record collection looks like, but I’m pretty much convinced that it contains little or nothing that you might have heard of – an obscure hot pot of the weird and wonderful perhaps. ‘Thru Her’, for instance, contains a sample that wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘100th Window’ by Massive Attack – managing to sound both like an old 7” record that you’ve discovered in a box in the attic – and contemporary in equal measure. [Sub-Ed Note – there’s something of J Dilla‘s Donuts in his magpie-esque beat selection too.]

One final note – this vinyl pressing is one of the quietest LPs I’ve heard in quite a while. Not ‘quiet’ as in meaning that it’s a quiet recording – far from it. It’s actually almost completely noise-free and near-silent between tracks. I’ve become fairly blasé about the quality of many recent vinyl pressings, but this one really is excellent and is a testament to just how good vinyl really can be if care and attention is applied.

The album is released on vinyl and download. If you’re quick, a highly limited (to 100 copies) red vinyl version is available from Norman Records. Standard copies are also available in black vinyl.

(The Power Of) The Will Of Man is out now via Home Assembly Music.