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Maddslinky Make a Change

Seven years after his LP, Make Your Peace, paved the way for what the whole world now calls dubstep, Maddslinky is back. In fact, he never actually went away, but the recent popularity of music inspired by his early work has brought the man also known as Zed Bias back to everyone's attention.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Make a Change doesn't set out to test the ear. The opening track is an uplifting wedge of soulful house—featuring British soul singer Omar—that sets us up for a proper album with proper songs. The production is classic Zed Bias (909 hi-hats, piano melodies, Juno synths, garage percussion), the programming is concise, and as a result, the strongest beats are those with vocals. On "Hiding Place," half-step drums swagger beneath an enchanting hook, courtesy of Taniah; "Inspiration Meditation" features Paul Randolph brooding over a thick square-wave riff, guided by flickers of crisp percussion; and on "Fly," Jenna G (most commonly seen standing next to DJ Zinc) rides a surging house jam that is destined for the record bags of UK funky DJs like Marcus Nasty.

There is, however, an exception that disproves the rule. The album's highpoint comes courtesy of an instrumental track—featured on Martyn's 2009 Fabric mix CD—entitled "Lost on Tenori Street." Mesmerizing from start to finish, the track swirls around a dreamy melody, played on a marimba, that creates an effect something like a sedated shangaan electro. Sublime.

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