Artist: James Zabiela
Title: Sound In Motion
Label: Hooj Choons
By: Simon Jones | 3 July 2003
  1. Zabiela Intro - More Than Just Playing Records
  2. Edward Shearmur's - Taxi Ride (JZ DJ Re-Edit)
  3. Sunday Brunch - My World (Nightdrive Mix)
  4. Earth Deuley - Spacial Gathering
  5. Natural Rhythm - Your World
  6. Sean Q6 - Out In The Shed
  7. Lanoiraude - J.J Scenario
  8. Animated - Come On
  9. Jigga-What - Sleeping In
  10. Echomen - Thru 2 You (Bushwacka! Mix)
  11. Maffia Soundsystem - Fact Da Floor
  12. Timmy S - He's In The Bar
  13. ODD - Don't Look at Me (Paul Rogers Dub)
    Space Manoeuvres - Stage One (Acappella)
  14. Bermuda Triangle - Tay Do 22

James Zabiela "Sound In Motion"James Zabiela "Sound In Motion"

Out Now on Hooj Choons

From the moment James Zabiela won Muzik's acclaimed Bedroom Bedlam contest, things changed. They changed even further when thanks to the efforts of Lee Burridge and Sasha, he was soon added to Excession's prestigious dj roster. However, you don't need to hear this story as it's been told a thousand times over. It's quite simple. Both of those things happened because the people who matter noticed a talent. A talent that is still developing. However, James Zabiela isn't a member of the pretentious dj club. In fact he's quite the opposite. A down to earth person who still gets humbled by praise, listens to criticism, and aims to give the public what they want, and at the same time he has fun doing it. The growing talent is evident if you were to compare his 2002 mix cd 'GTDJ' to this album, 'Sound In Motion'. But as a craftsman and technician, who instead of going down the studio mixed route like many other djs do for their compilations, James does this live, using and abusing Pioneer CDJ1000s, a Pioneer DJM600 and Technics' own 1210's to the full capacity their designers intended... and beyond..

As the intro to Disc One, crafted by Zabiela himself, intertwines seamlessly into his own edit of 'Taxi Ride' by Edward Sheamur, the hairs on the back of your neck stand up as heavy sub bass rhythms clash with electronic rhythms and soaring synths. Indeed as the subtitle of the Intro states, this is more than just playing records, and leads us with ease into the electro beats, and eerie melodies of Sunday Brunch's 'My World', it's vocodered vocal adding an outer worldly depth to this disc. It's a mood reflected perfectly by the metallic beats and rhythms of Earth Deuley's 'Spacial Gathering' and later by the funky alien-esque bass and drum arrangements of Natural Rhythm's 'Your World', it's vocal just pulling you into the void that Zabiela is filling even further. A slight change in rhythm, and it's 'Out In The Shed' we head to, Sean Q6 showcasing his usual production finesse with a mixture of sub bass hooks and soul shaking percussion, fucking with your mind as each intricacy of the track, and indeed this disc unfolds further, cemented by the shape shifting bass and melody of Lanoiraude's 'j.j. scenario'.

Animated are renowned for their bass heavy rhythms and devastating beats, and 'Come On' is no exception, with the scratching, one of James's mainly tools in his repertoire adding more menace to an already fiercesome track, and building us up perfectly for Spincycle's astounding remix of 'Synchronicity' by O.C.B, it's warm rolling bassline driving forward as James weaves in yet another surprise, overlaying Photek's dub rework of Beth Orton's 'Anywhere' onto the track with precision execution, lifting it out as the bassline comes back in, and replacing it with the eerie, spacial grooves of Echomen's 'Thru 2 You', reworked in grand fashion by Bushwacka. Tracks from Maffia Soundsystem and Timmy S lower the tone of the disc as we near the end, smooth spacial soundscapes continuing to swirl through the speakers, amidst soft vox fx and percussive layers, which melt into the deep, warm piano melodies of ODD's 'Don't Look At Me'. Rapid key changes and a swelling hypnotic groove keep things interesting, gaps opening up in the beats where on occasion you can hear samples and riffs being dropped in once more by James, once again introducing an extra element to the mix, teasing us with what is to come, and as the scrumptious melodies and melodic breakbeats of Bermuda Triangle's 'Tay Do 22' edges it's way in, you realise that James has been dropping elements of Space Manoeuvres' classic 'Stage One' in, and he continues to do so amidst the operatic vocals and driving beats that bring this disc to an emotive end, your senses well and truly scrambled.

The distortion continues as Disc Two gets underway, but calm is returned in the form of the blissful melody of Simon & Levin's 'Gone'. The beat arrangement on this track varies, almost like raindrops falling upon the ground, some splashing, others trickling as the pace shifts into the deep organic grooves of Dave Robertson's 'Slang For Funky', it's warm bassline just a catalyst that sparks the frenzied meshing of acidic stabs and electo that is quite aptly named 'Acid Attack'. Already the flow and direction of the disc has changed several times as James continues to reveal his capabilities, starting with the jaw dropping fusion of Halo Varga's 'Future' onto PJ Davy's 'Call It What You Want', the dark ambience that is created being made even more foreboding by the devastating bassline that Dave Robertson adds to his own rework of PJ Davy's 'Freezing Point'. A stark contrast indeed to the following track, Aphasia's 'Acapulco'. A subtle transition from darkness into light reveals one of the most captivating melody lines you will have heard in a longtime, underpinned by deep cavernous beats and a shaking groove that will sink right into you.

But it is to be short lived, as the menace returns once more, filthier bass and even more twisted beats coming in the form of Zabiela's own speaker-tweaking bass bin-busting remix of Dave Brennan's 'Drink Deep', a soul piercing bassline cutting through string layers and interwoven drum percussion with reckless abandon. Indeed the 'Bad Bwoy' acapella that leads up to James' own vocal on Drink Deep is perhaps a hint towards the darker side of his musical repertoire, where he is fully aware of the chaos and carnage he is wrecking, scratching his way through Bushwacka's 'Break Your Face', making each beat arrangement that kicks in have all the more impact. The twisted bassline of Star Spangled Banner's 'Mr Negative' allows James to continue on with the scratching, to the point where he is almost detached from everything else. And if it's not him punishing us with his skills, it's the sounds he's dropping into the mix, as evidenced by the evil bassline of Ebon's 'Sleepless 2', it's vocals and drums taking over what is left of your mind, whilst the gut wrenching beats of 'Process Cyan' by Ant abuses your soul. However respite comes in the form of Ficta's 'Eli'. The brainchild of producer Aidan Lavelle, 'Eli' fuses the heavy beats with uplifting strings and emotive melodies as Zabiela attempts to bring things into order as the second disc and indeed the album as an whole comes to an end. It's an attempt to heal you, because whilst the the first disc may have screwed with your mind, this second disc rapes and pillages your body and soul like only James knows how.

From the start of Disc One, to the end of Disc Two, James Zabiela pulls no punches in utilising every last ounce of his dj repertoire in creating a listening experience that stands head and shoulders above every other in recent months. His ear for sound is so intricate and his precision so well executed it's hard to find fault. As a snapshot of what this dj is all about this album does it's job perfectly. He's a master of his trade, not held back by boundaries, and is still yet to realise his full potential. However, don't worry about that, for this album is a reflection of the James Zabiela here and now, and if Sasha is indeed the son of god, then James Zabiela must be Moses, as this album parts the sea of average compilation albums that exists and stands in the centre with commanding presence. Make sure you don't miss it.

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