Various Artists: Hyperdub 10.1 – album review

Hyperdub 10.1 – Various Artists (Hyperdub)

Format: CD/ DL 

8/10

Simon Tucker revels in Hyperdub’s exhilarating and ambitious celebration of bass and dubstep. Burial and DJ Rashad star.

Steve Goodman’s (aka Kode 9) Hyperdub label started life as an online magazine which focused on the burgeoning dubstep scene, or “the Jamaican influence on electronic music in London” which was blossoming at the time. Creating a label to self release his “Sine of the Dub” 12” Hyperdub has morphed and grown into one of the most essential independent labels out there.

It (Hyperdub) is a label that people look at with interest. In fact, the label can proudly sit alongside other UK greats such as Invada, Warp, Deathwaltz, and Metalheadz. What Hyperdub shares with these labels is an extraordinary sense of quality control, a diverse and exciting roster of artists that, even though they differ in style and sound, still seem to share the same identity and a willingness to experiment and push boundaries. It also has a great logo (think about it, all great labels have great logos that, if spotted on a release, make you instantly want to check out the music).

Hypderdub 10.1 is a two disc compilation which is the opening salvo of a bigger celebration campaign which includes another three compilations, live shows and a series of single and multi-artist vinyl EPs. Disc one of the compilation contains mainly new material by artists that have become the core of the label, some who have released more limited titles and a few new to the label. Artists include DVA, Morgan Zarate, Mala and the Teklife Crew.

The highlights include Mala’s Expected which, with its invading army sensation and sub-bass aggression, is yet another classic by the guv’nor of dubstep; Mtzpn’s Kuedo which invokes bittersweet feelings and is a tune that is beautifully serene yet dastardly hard to pin down  and Hyperdub’s gaffer Kode9’s Xingfu Lu (Helix RMX) which exudes malevolent beauty.

All of these, however, are dwarfed by the glitch-step majesty of Taso & Djunya’s Only The Strong, a cut that seems to have inhaled all the great electronic music from the last 26 years, giving it a 2014 lick of paint and birthed a beautifully modern slice of bass music that is both joyous and unsettling and a tune that can be enjoyed on the biggest sound rigs to the tiny mobile phone headphones.

Disc two consists of “17 high points” from the past five years and you could not wish for a better running order as the disc is bookended by the artist who, to a lot of people, is mostly associated with the label – Burial – and with a magnetic track from DJ Rashad who very sadly passed away recently.

From Burial we get a track from his incredible self-titled debut album, The Spaceape (featuring Hyperdub’s regular MC Spaceape). The Spaceape is a tune riddled with weed psychosis yet bathed in the affects an altered state can bring. A Zen mantra and tidal wave tune that you wish you can ride for eternity.

 

Other highlights include DVA’s Natty, Ikonika’s Idiot, and DOK’s East Coast but it is fitting that the last word goes to DJ Rashad. Let It Go is so joyously emotive that you can feel the original boom of acid house and E culture in its DNA yet this is no pastiche. This is futuristic, hedonistic, introspective and communicative. There is real warmth running through Let It Go that emits from the speakers and it’s a tune that refuses to let you go until you feel the positivity flowing into your inner self. A truly beautiful song and one that, by being placed at the end of this collection, serves as a glorious tribute to its creator.

Again Hyperdub deliver. They deliver on surprises, on innovation, on homage and on sheer quality. Anyone with a remote interest in bass music from here or from the USA needs to listen to it. You may not like all of it (that’s where personal preference comes in) but you will find it hard not to admire the work on display here. If the other three compilations are as remotely good as this one then we are in for a real treat.

~

Hyperdub Web, TwitterFacebook and Soundcloud.

All words by Simon Tucker, find his Louder than war archive here.

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