Simple Things

Simple Things

4.8 6
by Zero 7
     
 

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They've been dubbed the British Air, in allusion to the French band that made it as hip to like prog-rock as it is to like Beck. And you'll hear why straightaway on Simple Things, the retro-soul- and beats-filled debut from London duo Zero 7. The opening track, "I Have Seen," is suffused with lush strings, which hang like a fog over aSee more details below

Overview

They've been dubbed the British Air, in allusion to the French band that made it as hip to like prog-rock as it is to like Beck. And you'll hear why straightaway on Simple Things, the retro-soul- and beats-filled debut from London duo Zero 7. The opening track, "I Have Seen," is suffused with lush strings, which hang like a fog over a pulsing bass line and folksy-sounding acoustic guitar. But whereas the French duo dredge up the arrangements of '70s album rock, the guys in Zero 7 take their cues from the production and arrangement style of soulman Quincy Jones, the legendary George Martin, or even underground legend David Axelrod, as they pad their down-tempo beats with strings, keys, and rich, soulful vocals from a handful of guest singers. The results are so artfully layered and so easy on the ears that it's no surprise to learn that Zero 7's primaries, knobsmen Sam Hardaker and Henry Binns, got their start as engineers, recording a few singles on the side as well as remixing songs for Radiohead and Lenny Kravitz. The pair spin gorgeous webs around both the sensual, Seal-like vocals of Mozez on the aforementioned "I Have Seen" and the sultry coos of young soul divas Sia Furler and Sophie Barker on "Destiny" (Furler shines in the spotlight on the spare "Distractions"). Hardarker and Binns also approach their instrumental mini-symphonies (e.g., "Polaris" and "Give It Away") as if they were fancifully decorated gateaux, each element tastefully put in place. With Simple Things, Zero 7 have crafted a cinematic, evocative debut that injects a much-needed boost of creativity into contemporary dance music.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Tim DiGravina
Forget the rampant labeling of Zero 7 as the "British Air", because Simple Things is a debut album that stands on its own as a chilled, subtle collection of organic songs. There are hints of Air, but there are equally relevant comparisons that might be made with Morcheeba, Rae & Christian, Nightmares on Wax, and early Massive Attack. Indeed, after Morcheeba's overproduced Fragments of Freedom and Rae & Christian's sloppy Sleepwalking, Simple Things picks up the slack in a rewarding manner. Simple Things might just be a gentle Cinderella, a kind stepsister to Massive Attack's dark masterpiece, Mezzanine. It's rare that a post-trip-hop album is so interesting and engrossing, but the duo of Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker mix a number of musical elements, such as soul-influenced diva vocals, gurgling and ringing keyboards, and classical string arrangements, into a relaxing, potent wave of sounds. Though the album starts to meander in its closing tracks, the first 50 minutes are cohesive, vibrant, and calming. Highlights are too numerous to call out, as the duo switches from instrumentals to songs featuring passionate, energized vocals from Mozez, Sia Furler, and Sophie Barker. All three vocalists mingle as perfect matches to the smart arrangements. Twinkling keyboards, barely-there basslines, and acoustic guitars create rolling melodies that never interfere with the task at hand, that of chiseling textured aural atmospheres. Simple Things is an accomplished slice of soulful genius that rewards frequent spins.
NME
One of the most accomplished and refreshing albums of the year.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/13/2001
Label:
Palm Pictures (Audio
UPC:
0660200500726
catalogNumber:
5007

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Zero 7   Primary Artist
Phil Thornalley   Bass,Guitar
Sophie Barker   Vocals
Maxton G. Beesley   fender rhodes
Sally Herbert   Violin
David Litman   Flute
Jeremy Stacey   Violin,Drums
Henry Binns   Track Performer
Sam Hardaker   Track Performer
Alan Simpson   Guitar
Oli Savill   Percussion
Graeme Stewart   Trumpet
Simon Elms   Trumpet
Miggy Barradas   Drums
Jenny Arrel   Percussion
Brilliant Strings   Strings
Peter Trotman   Bass

Technical Credits

Henry Binns   Composer
Sam Hardaker   Composer
Demus   Engineer
Sia   Composer
Zero 7   Producer,Engineer,Remixing

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