Zainetica: Soul Paradox

Anyone tempted to perform last rites on electronica might want to think twice after listening to Mark Streatfield's latest Zainetica collection. Following upon numerous releases for labels like Boltfish and U-cover, Soul Paradox is the first release on the Rednetic founder's own label in five years and it's about as tight and solidly crafted as could be imagined. The requisite melancholic mix of symphonic string tones, gleaming synth melodies, and crisp electro-funk beats are all present and accounted for but what recommends the material most is the clear-headed focus Streatfield beings to the tracks' compositional design. Streatfield works the brooding electro-funk vibe of “A Distance Between Us” like a seasoned pro in the skilful way the brooding composition's dark string tones and clattering beat throb intertwine. The naturally harder-edged “Madness” pounds its point home with relentless intensity as a jackhammer funk base collides with brighter exhalations while “Soul Paradox” changes the template by adding a James Brown funk vibe to the mix. Elsewhere one encounters funky swing and Kraftwerk themes (“Fatter Angus”), inventive dub-electro-funk (“Deal Soul”), and an equally mellow and sweet outro (“Lazy Nelson Days”). Powered by hypnotic synth melodies and insistent beat patterns, “Nomad” is about as classic a piece of electronica as one might hope to find. Listening to the album, one quickly realizes that he's given the utmost consideration to the eleven songs' sonic details and arrangements. A sense of directionless never creeps in, even when a given piece lasts even to eight minutes (as is often the case on the seventy-four-minute set), and there's never a sense that the machines have wrested control from their operator— Soul Paradox ain't Confield in other words.

September 2008