PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


µ-Ziq: Bilious Paths

Matt Gonzales


Bilious Paths

Label: Planet Mu
US Release Date: 2003-07-01
UK Release Date: 2003-06-02

Mike Paradinas is µ-Ziq, pronounced, simply, "music." He has released music under various appellations, among them "Jake Slazenger" and "Kid Spatula". But his primary moniker is µ-Ziq. There is no way to properly capitalize µ-Ziq. According to my PC's character map, "µ" is a micro sign. It is also the symbol for the Greek letter "mu." Hence the pronunciation, "mu-sic".

It is all very abstract.

Abstract as well is the music on µ-Ziq's latest release, Bilious Paths -- but you probably have already come to that conclusion. After all, anyone who calls himself µ-Ziq, and names his album Bilious Paths, is bound to make maze-like, esoteric sonic compositions. In this respect, µ-Ziq does not disappoint. In fact, those who are dipping their toes into the IDM pool for the first time would be well advised to begin their adventure from a less daunting starting point, such as Boards of Canada, or perhaps even Múm. This is not because µ-Ziq is helplessly abstruse; it's just that his dense and fractured electronic noise isn't the ideal curriculum for IDM 101.

Although he has been making and releasing music for more than 10 years, µ-Ziq isn't remotely close to being really, truly famous. But like any uncelebrated genius, those who follow the scene know and deeply appreciate him. µ-Ziq has collaborated with one of the most visible leaders of the modern electronic movement in Richard James (Aphex Twin), and he owns and runs the electronic label Planet Mu, which hosts a number of up-and-coming IDM artists, among which are up-and-coming young talents like Aaron Funk (aka Venetian Snares) and Keith Fullerton Whitman (Hrvatski). But µ-Ziq, unlike the often juvenile and always attention-starved Richard James, keeps it low and quiet, preferring to let his music and movement behind the scenes do his talking for him.

That's admirable and refreshing, isn't it? What's even more admirable and refreshing is the work µ-Ziq has done on Bilious Paths, Paradinas's first proper album in nearly five years. Featuring an assortment of songs that are at once blithely whimsical and tightly woven, Bilious Paths finds Paradinas making a concerted effort to be both daring and diverse, drawing from several different veins of the elliptical IDM corpus. The warped hip-hop samples on "On/Off" and "Silk Ties" find an unlikely home on the same album with the turbulent melodies and feverish beats of "Johnny Maastricht" and "Siege of Antioch". And all the way through, Bilious Paths features tremendous technical craftsmanship on the part of Paradinas -- but never at the expense of emotion. The album's most gratifying moments are when he piles layer upon layer of ostensibly incompatible beats and rhythms on top of one another, twirling and looping them into different shapes and textures, until finally achieving an improbable, exquisite balance.

It's a difficult record at times, but the most challenging part of all is figuring out what to do with it. There are times when the syncopated beats will entreat you to dance. There are other times when the treble-heavy dissonance will try your patience. And then there are times when the clicks, blips, and toy gun clatter will coalesce into a wildly synergetic soundscape that will leave your synapses quivering. Without a doubt, Bilious Paths' most rewarding trait is its intermittent, undeniable beauty. From "Meinheld", an anarchic sound collage of frantic beats and samples that gains shape and depth as it unfolds, to "My Mengegus", a sublime tone poem that commands trance-like absorption through the power of suggestion rather than brute repetition, Bilious Paths is further proof that µ-Ziq is an indisputable giant in the IDM world, even if few people can see him.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.