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.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.