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Zero 7

Under the banner of Zero 7, British producers Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker have amassed an impressive and wide-ranging catalog that spans trip-hop, downtempo, acid jazz, and various facets of electronic music. Since forming in the late '90s, they have released numerous singles, remixes, and EPs along with acclaimed albums like 2004's When It Falls and 2006's The Garden, both of which reached the Top Five in the U.K. while charting around Europe. From the start, Zero 7 fashioned themselves eclectic tastemakers and have collaborated widely; they have remixed tracks for Radiohead, Lenny Kravitz, and Sneaker Pimps while their own songs have featured vocalists like Sia, Mozez, and Sophie Baker. After 2009's Yeah Ghost, the duo's output slowed somewhat and they shifted their focus away from albums, working instead on EPs like 2014's Simple Science and 2020's Lou Stone collaboration Shadows, which they released on their own Make Records imprint. They also continued to work on singles like the spacious "Aurora" with José González and "Swimmer" with Jem Cooke. Binns and Hardaker launched their careers in the music industry as tea boys at a London recording studio. Shortly thereafter, however, both were in the thick of action, working alongside a string of well-known British musicians such as the Pet Shop Boys and Robert Plant. They spent the best part of the '90s honing their production skills behind the scenes. Then, after taking on the name of a nightclub in Honduras, the duo gradually began unleashing their own ideas onto an unsuspecting public. First came a handful of remixes, including Radiohead's "Climbing Up the Walls" and Terry Callier's "Love Theme from Spartacus." Then came Zero 7's own material, beginning with the release of EP 1 in 1999. Only a handful of copies were made and they sold out in a matter of days, a feat that was repeated with Zero 7's second release, EP 2. The duo's highly anticipated full-length debut, Simple Things, arrived in mid-2001. A collection of laid-back soul, acid jazz, and funk tracks, the album had collaborations with respected vocalists Mozez, Sia, and Sophie Barker and earned a Mercury Prize nomination. A sophomore effort, When It Falls, appeared in March 2004, followed two years later by the Grammy-nominated The Garden, which included contributions from longtime partner Sia as well as Swedish star José González. Meanwhile, Zero 7's presence on the popular Garden State soundtrack helped attract a wider audience, endearing the group's music to crowds that didn't typically follow the downtempo scene. For their next project, Binns and Hardaker aligned themselves with London-based singer Eska Mtungwazi, whose influence resulted in a new emphasis on pop music. Released in 2009, Yeah Ghost unveiled Zero 7's retooled mix of pop-influenced electronica and ambient jazz, and the group toured on both sides of the Atlantic in support of its release. It was another consistent critical success, though not a commercial one, and Atlantic soon cut ties with the band. Following a 2010 compilation simply titled Record, Zero 7 shifted away from album-making and began releasing singles and EPs on their own. Though not as prolific as in their early days, Binns and Hardaker worked patiently and turned out high-quality singles like "On My Own" and "Don't Call It Love." They also returned to the EP format for 2014's Simple Science and 2015's EP3, both of which came out on Make Records, their newly launched label. After several years away, Zero 7 returned with the vibrant 2018 single "Mono" featuring Hidden. 2019's "Aurora" saw them reunite with former collaborator José González, and they also worked with singer Jem Cooke on the shimmering single "Swimmers."
© David Peter Wesolowski /TiVo


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