Justin Zerbst – From City Lights EP (MET032)

Reviewed By: Matt Sever
Forthcoming on Metamorphic Recordings – Justin Zerbst – From City Lights EP.
Dan Curtin’s influential Metamorphic serves up one of those contradictory cuts – fresh but retro, new but old school. Four tracks of analogue machine-made techno, created in the 90’s and unreleased until now. Robert Feuchtel of Fat of Excellence Production Services Cologne is on mastering duties, bringing the sound up to date.


I like it when there isn’t loads of info, bio’s etc about an artist, it adds a bit of mystery and lets the music do the talking. Zerbst is Melbourne based and released his first record in the 90’s, on the highly regarded Australian label Red Embers. Since then his releases have been few but highly regarded, on labels such as Eklo, Seekers, and the above mentioned Red Embers.


There are four tracks on this EP, the first being A Time and a Location. First thing I notice is the tempo, it’s not mega fast but you can tell it’s from the 90’s. Straight four four beat, some drawn out stabs, it develops beautifully into an almost bumping groove, layers and layers building.


Next up Places. This almost reminds me a bit of Surgeon, maybe a bit of Ruskin. Disorienting, distorted pads drone, build and drop. The relentless chords undulate, subtlety building in intensity. This track does that thing I love, where at points it almost sounds like its falling apart – but it’s not, the right time on the right dancefloor – amazing.


Third on the EP is Away. Straight kick again, some old school percussion, electronic drops ride the track, a clap, then off beat stabs followed by an amazing understated bassline bring the groove. This is awesome, the rides change pitch throughout, parts come and go, but this just worms its way deep into your mind.


Last up we have In Deep. You definitely end up in the deep whilst listening to this track. You can hear the Detroit influence. Emotional, atmospheric but still has that hypnotic groove with the bassline and percussion. When the acid comes in it just takes it to another level.


This EP has a rawness that you don’t often hear these days, Zerbst demonstrates a true understanding of groove, but yet it’s not obvious or too formulaic, some of the twists and turns and progressions in the tracks take you by surprise. It’s a window back in time, but it still sounds fresh and new. One of the many beauties of techno.