Canadian electronic duo Zeds Dead are certainly taking a trail less traveled on their debut album Northern Lights. They’re an act that’s been incredibly hard to pigeonhole, genre-wise, in their years on the scene, and this diversity is echoed throughout their debut record. Not only have they written and produced 15 incredible tracks, but the way in which they explore all the possible realms of their sound puts this record in the upper echelons of the increasingly-rare category of producers creating full-length albums.
Across the record, Zeds Dead have collected an enviable list of collaborators, including Diplo, Elliphant, NGHTMRE, Pusha T, Jadakiss, GG Magree, Twin Shadow, Dragonette and a bunch more. This extensive list of collaborators aren’t just featured for the sake of it, rather they rather present opportunities for Zeds Dead to compliment the vocal and production styles of musicians from a variety of backgrounds and genres – giving the spread of songs across Northern Lights a complexity and variability that would’ve been difficult to achieve otherwise.
As previously mentioned, this record spreads across a fairly vast range of sounds and styles. There are plenty of hard-hitting tracks – unsurprisingly Frontlines, their collab with NGHTMRE, has plenty of trap triggers, while Me No Care is a throwback to the days when Drum & Bass ruled the realms of electronic music, and they definitely go hard on the dark and bass-heavy Already Gone, which also has plenty of nods towards hardstyle.
But Zeds Dead have proven that they’re just as adept at creating more melodic-based tunes. Some of the better examples of this include their collab with Diplo and Elliphant, Blame, (which admittedly builds to a filthy drop in its final half a minute or so). Lights Out features the gorgeous, flowingly melodic vocals of Atlas and explores a spacious texture between bass and melody, while the final tune on the LP Slow Down is another aptly-named melodic slow burner.
When bringing together such an extensive range of collaborators there’s an inherent risk of creating a record that struggles for consistency, and Northern Lights often feels more like 15 singles and less of a cohesive piece of work. There’s definitely points due here for the amount of diversity put into this record by Zeds Dead, and there are certainly plenty of bangers available, but there’s also room for improvement cohesion-wise, should they choose to release music in this format again in the future.
‘Northern Lights’ is out today. Zeds Dead have will be touring Australia for the first time in December, headlining dates across Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane as part of the new HARD festival.