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Zero 7 at The Fillmore

The new kings of downtempo

Sometimes a beat, a rhyme, or a head nod come from Simple Things. Producers Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker are no strangers to breaking down music to its basic roots. Both are the masterminds behind the organic downbeat band Zero-7 (named after a nightclub in Honduras). Their heavy hands deep in soul and hip hop have shaped their sound and popularity among cross genre listeners.

Mastering mix tapes since their school days in London, Binns and Hardaker crafted their musical taste in sound engineering classes. Like any break in the business, it's who you know. Their college lad, producer Nigel Godrich (Beck, Radiohead, Travis, U2), moved Binns & Hardaker to the studio foreground with an opportunity to remix Radiohead's "Climbing Up the Walls." With new doors opened for the pair, and they started their producer pilgrimage by remixing folk artist Terry Callier, dreadlocked rocker Lenny Kravitz, and trip-hop's Sneaker Pimps.

Their timing and popularity couldn't have come at a better time. Separation between music producer and musician in today's music is blurred and equal footing is shared. Instead of strumming guitars and learning the subtleties of music theory, they joined a long list of producers tweaking knobs, cutting and pasting musical bites, and laying down digital tracks. How better to illustrate this point then by looking at your own music collection? Next to any given "Remix" track you might find a list of producers such as Kruder & Dorfmeister, Fatboy Slim, Daft Punk, or Thievery Corporation. Each widened the approach of music creation and changed our conceptions of musicians.

Zero-7's first album, Simple Things turned music industry heads with instrumental string textures and deep synthesized keyboards seamed together by spacious bass lines and silk laden vocals. Their latest album Another Late Night, is more of an exercise in musical taste. Instead of showcasing their talent as musicians, they switch hats by blending 14 tracks. From hip-hop (Quasimoto, Slum Village, Souls of Mischief) and R&B (Stylistics, Leroy Hutson), to dubbed reggae (Roots Manuva, Johnny Osborne), Binns and Hardaker stir a simple gravy with their discriminating taste.

Despite Zero-7's penchant for production, their live downbeat performances have been rumored to hold their own. Gathering a backup band of 10-15 musicians, one can only imagine they'll match their production skills with their live offering. We often assume that electronica can only be performed with a DJ possessing half-baked blending skills. Scratch that from your expectations. In turn, put a mini-moog, a synthesizer, a guitar, and a bass on stage. If you're lucky, Zero-7 will tour with their highly regarded repetoire of vocalists: sirens Sia Furler and Sophie Barker and male vocalist Morez. If that doesn't tempt your palate, maybe Henry Binns' concert attire bathing robe might add to their 'hot buttered soul.' If they can match their studio abilities in their live performance, Zero-7 will be added to the long list of great performances at the legendary Fillmore.