Listen: Zero 7 Bring Downtempo Disco New ‘Simple Science’ EP

Zero 7 gave a few hearts and loins a hardy stir when they dropped their debut LP, Simple Things in April of 2001. Its smooth mix of blissed-out electronica and Northern Soul-soaked vocals (including Sia Fuller’s) made it a seductive backdrop to the “bling” era’s final spring fling. It also gave some the yawns, particularly in light of more celebrated contemporaries like nouveau-prog demigods Air or trip-hop heavyweights Massive Attack and Portishead. A few months later, when the world seemed to sparkle less, Simple Things and Zero 7 acquired a nobler allure: cool comfort for frayed psyches. Suddenly, a good yawn felt like a nostalgic luxury relegated to more “innocent” times.

In the thirteen years since, Zero 7 (Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker) have released four albums, several EPs, countless remixes for indie’s elite, and licensed dozens of songs to scores of ads. The white heat of their breakthrough bang has dimmed, but that’s partly a space-time continuum thing and,fortunately, Zero 7 play well in the shadows. And that’s where the four slow-disco tinged tracks on their new double-vinyl EP, Simple Science, will undoubtedly sound best.

Even though Zero 7 have been leaning toward four-on-the-floor deep house in the past couple of years, their downtempo DNA still shines through in their jazzy rhythms and smokey beats. On “Simple Science,” Danny Pratt adds a melancholy mirrorball timbre to percolating arpeggiated keys reminiscent of Frankie Knuckle’s “Your Love”, and Only Girl brings a distressed boogie glam to “Take Me Away” (previously a digital release). Both could benefit from a bit of whittling but what’s disco without a little excess? The other two tracks are the dubby “Red, Blue and Green”; and “U Know”, an electro-poppy ditty they cooked up at Glastonbury last year.