PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

µ-Ziq Continues to Dazzle with a Newly Discovered Collection 'Challenge Me Foolish'

Publicity photo via Bandcamp

Mike Paradinas needs to be more careful. He might accidentally lose track of some of his most delightful work.

Challenge Me Foolish
µ-Ziq

Planet Mu

13 April 2018

Mike Paradinas, the electronic musician who goes by the name µ-Ziq, must have a precarious relationship with his hard drives because this is the second almost-lost album we've come across by him. Aberystwyth Marine was recorded in the late '90s but didn't see the light of day until early 2016. Challenge Me Foolish was recorded around the same time and is now seeing release on Paradinas's Planet Mu in 2018. He should find a cash-strapped teenager to go through his storage space someday because these "lost" µ-Ziq albums are just painstakingly pleasurable as any of Mike Paradinas's planned releases. It's even been proclaimed, by the accompanying press material, as a superior companion to his 1999 album Royal Astronomy. Is it in fact better? Almost? A matter of hairsplitting, perhaps? Let's go with that last notion because, from whatever angle, you are looking at two very sturdy albums from one of IDM's greatest forerunners.

As time marches on, recorded music is sounding less and less dated. When I was a kid, music that 20 years old sounded ancient to me. Nowadays, music that is 20 years old has no problem standing side-by-side with something more current (as long as a mastering job steps in to match the volumes). Music outside the pop/rock scope seems even more immune to aging, meaning that Challenge Me Foolish would have no problem passing as a 2018 release. Adding icing to the cake is the album's diversity. Someone prone to look for grey clouds among the silver lining may complain about the album's lack of focus. But that's a bit like griping to your waiter about the food on your plate being disorganized. If you just take the time to taste it, you could care less about the lack of focus.

Mike Paradinas released his first µ-Ziq on the Rephlex label, meaning that he was ranked as a very close second behind Richard D. James where idiosyncratic electronica was concerned. A good melody was never at the mercy of a strange noise, and vice versa. A perfect marriage of the strange and beautiful, Paradinas and James built a little empire among their respective catalogs and collaborating on an album that was eventually released on both of their labels. The two have since branched off in their own subtle ways with James preferring a perverse mix of ambient and glitch music. Paradinas, meanwhile, continues to straddle whatever combinations of electronica he can to give us more of what we haven't heard before.

After smooth, swaying synths of "Inclement" get things rolling for Foolish, groundwork is prepared for decidedly less laid-back material on "Undone", a track that doesn't quite live up to its sad and chaotic title. The title track is the first of five to feature Japanese vocalist Kazumi. "Challenge Me Foolish" could be Moby in stealth, but tracks like "Durian" and "Lexicon" throw shadings of psychedelia and jungle into the mix respectively. "Bassbins" stalks you from behind, eager to agitate. Hit the skip button, and the mood shifts to old-school computer game music with "Robin Hood Gate", completely free of percussion. Selections like "Perhaps" and "Perframe" also enjoy the pulse-free environment, though it would be a stretch to label them as ambient.

Challenge Me Foolish ends with a stunner, though not before the listener is teased with the (nearly) relentlessly playful "Peek Freans", a sunny slice of major-key dopiness that could be disguised as a synthesizer demo. Kazumi's vocals are then heavily sampled for the lyrically nonsensical yet heavily compelling "DoDaDu". It's somehow both slightly goofy and very lovely.

Again, this album was "almost lost!"

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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