I first heard Zabiela’s The Healing whilst staring through the window at my parents’ sunny garden in Australia during an extended visit home. My friend had posted it on his facebook wall in all sorts of excited hysterics about the final arrival of James Zabiela’s new label, Born Electric, and its inaugural release from Zabiela himself, whose own productions are quite rare (whhyyyy? WHYYYY?). I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t what I heard. Zabiela had been producing melodic stuff before now, but always welded together by slightly chopped rhythms and flat bass beats. There was nothing chopped about The Healing; the whole thing was pure silk.
It begins with rippling. A light and hypnotic rippling which is gradually layered upon by a loop of Zabiela’s own silky vocals, light percussion and trance-like synth arpeggios which build before the track gently drops into a very slow and simple 4/4. It’s essential this is listened to with the best speakers on hand, so you can enjoy every level of texture, most crucially the sonorous waves of bass that intermittently wash over the lower end of the track like a warm vibrating blanket.
With a constant sense of travel the track rolls through several different variations on a theme, stimulating enough to keep you out of a trance but without breaking its own flow. Just when you think it’s all over there is a standout vocal couplet doubled by bass, bringing the song to a heart-wrenching but satisfying close.
Like other Born Electric releases that followed, The Healing comes with a quality selection of remixes made by artists Zabiela personally requested and admires: Hot Chip, Midland, Clubroot and his own re-working to make it club friendly. My favourite remix by far, however, emerged a few months later as part of
, in which he takes the stems from twelve eclectic tracks and re-works them from the bottom up. Sasha introduced a heavy, acidy bass line to The Healing which morphed it into quite a different creature, whilst still maintaining warmth through Zabiela’s vocals.
Zabiela has stated that The Healing is a very personal song… but he didn’t need to say it. Anyone that gives this their full attention will connect with it on a deeper level; one youtube commenter even said, “it makes me want to punch a goose”, but I’m not sure what that means, musically speaking.
Check out the Born Electric discography HERE. Modest in size, but excellent in quality.