Over the past two years, young German producer, Anton Zaslavski, aka Zedd, has seen a quick rise to success, after winning two Beatport remix contests in 2009. He built a steady fanbase through tracks like “The Legend of Zelda” and “Dovregubben”, then watched his popularity skyrocket with the release of “Shave It”, via Skrillex’s OWSLA imprint. In seemingly a whirlwind series of events, we’ve arrived at his debut album, Clarity, courtesy of Interscope Records. Yeah, it’s been quite a ride.
Clarity just may go down as the best electronic music LP of the year. In all fairness, this is a singles market, so the prospects of producers like Zedd and his peers releasing albums is a rarity, thanks to the constant touring. But Zedd’s in his rookie years here, so he hasn’t put in the touring hours of David Guetta or Kaskade (yet), giving him plenty of time to perfect his craft in the studio. As a classically trained musician, Zedd transcends the role of producer, as evidenced in a video of him flawlessly playing the entirety of “Spectrum” – including the sung parts, in instrumental form on piano.
Clarity takes his single work and builds upon it, suggesting that these previously released songs have been chapters of a grander piece of work. The album begins with the ticking of a clock on “Hourglass”, which finds vocalist LIZ belting out her notes over Zedd’s marching drums and somber pianos, leading into huge, driving drop. Before you know it, the song has seamlessly morphed into his already classic single “Shave It”, which takes on new life here, in a shorter, more concise edit, taking the song to new, orchestrated heights. Just as “Shave It” reaches it’s climax, the opening notes of “Spectrum” play, sending a chill down the spine, as you suddenly realize it’s in the same exact key as the track preceding it. Impressively, through this arrangement, Zedd has managed to capture our hearts with two tracks we’ve heard many, many times over the last year. This is thinking man’s house music.
He pulls this trick again on two instrumental tracks later in the album, with both “Codec” and “Stache” being equal halves of the same slice of pie. But not before delivering two more potential hits with “Lost At Sea” (feat. Ryan Tedder) and title track “Clarity” (feat. Foxes). The most impressive of these new vocal collaborations however is “Fall Into The Sky” (feat. Ellie Goulding), which clearly found him saving his illest drop for Skrillex’s boo.
While it should also be mentioned that Zedd’s debut is mixed with almost Dr. Dre-levels of, well, clarity, what makes this album so impressive is that it is a fully realized body of work. The biggest clue that Zedd approached this as a mapped out, musical journey, is in the way it ends; that is, with a clock ticking, just as it began. Take note, we’ve caught a snapshot of an artist at the beginning of his career, still uncorrupted by industry evils. This is Zedd, this is Clarity.
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