After a decade of manufacturing downy acid jazz for cosmopolitan hotel lounges, Zero 7 can be excused for feeling bored. A couple of years ago, the studio wizards began fiddling with pricklier rhythms and razzle-dazzle jams under the alias Kling (a nod, undoubtedly, to Kraftwerk’s private studio, Kling Klang), and bits of that brain-stretching pop up in Yeah Ghost.
Which is not to say that the London duo’s scatterbrained fourth LP goes far beyond precision-engineered ambience for swanky interior spaces. Brash belter Eska Mtungwazi struts over four tracks that flirt admirably with Amy Winehouse’s contempo-soul, but stick out among the cooler, chill headphone fodder.
Bass, banjo and thumb-piano plucks skitter through ‘Pop Art Blue’, while steel drums perk up the jaunty Franco-pop of ‘Swing’. Storm clouds hang over the back end, as they might on a Massive Attack record. Zero 7’s own Henry Binns sings on the bouncy kraut number ‘Everything Up (Zizou)’, which mentions French soccer stars, Solomon Islands and Japanese novelists, and it flashes some quirky personality. Here’s hoping that, in the future, the two make an effort to show us more of their brains and less of their Rolodex.