Zero T: Golden Section
Dispatch Recordings

As any student of Art History knows, the Golden Section refers to a classical mathematic formula that's most commonly represented by the rectangle-based design conveniently shown on the cover of Zero T's album. As can be seen, the rectangle can be re-defined as a square (at left) adjacent to a smaller square possessing the same aspect ratio (at right), which, moving in clockwise manner, itself sits above a smaller square with the same aspect ratio, and so on. It's possible to overlay the design onto any number of artworks, be they painted and architectural, and find that the harmonious proportions of the Golden Section and the artwork coincide. Regardless of whether you buy into the concept or not, it would appear that Cian McCann (aka Zero T[olerance]) certainly has. Perhaps it's not so much the legitimacy of the formula itself that caught his attention but more simply the way in which it fuses science and art and concerns itself with issues of beauty, balance, and form.

Over a career spanning fifteen years, the London-based Irishman has worked with figures such as Calibre, 4 Hero, Klute, and Alix Perez, and issued a pile of EPs and singles and the 2008 full-length Cheap Shots. Seven years on from that collection, Golden Section offers a comprehensive portrait of the Zero T project in its current form. There's lots to dig into, given that fifteen tracks (thirteen originals and two bonus cuts) appear on the eighty-one-minute digital album. McCann sequences the collection effectively in starting with “Late Nite Movies,” an elegant opening salvo of atmospheric yet still muscular character. The track gradually eases the listener into Zero T's world until the charging neurofunk pulse and deep bass throb lock into position, setting the stage for what follows. Though the title “Roxy Music VIP” might reference the seminal art-rock outfit fronted by Bryan Ferry, the tune itself, sweetened with a male singer's vocal musings, opts for a riff on drum'n'bass seeped in sultry soul and late-night jazz. It's not the only time McCann's music takes a soulful turn on the release, as evidenced by the inclusion of “Stay With You,” “The Love She Needs,” and the bonus track “Gift Horse.”

My favourite? “Macushla,” a deliciously swoon-worthy slice of jazz-tinged breaks and acoustic piano sprinkles sure to get any Calibre devotee's heart racing and about as sophisticated and artful a drum'n'bass production as one might hope to hear. “Macushla” is hardly the only cut deserving of mention, however: McCann memorably smears the deep roller “Everything Must Change” with liberal doses of dub treatments and, with help from Dubliner Beta 2, works up a denser sound design on the industrial workout “Clondike.” True to the genre's high-velocity form, there are belters aplenty (“Cairo,” “Wolf Tone”), and though a few of the lesser cuts feel like the kind of thing McCann could do in his sleep (the too-repetitive “Cross It,” for instance), the release is still plentifully stacked with them omitted.

November 2015