Friday, May 30, 2014

Album Review: Various – Hyperdub 10.1 (2014)

Glasgow-born Steve Goodman has crammed a huge amount of living into his 40-odd years on the planet. He’s a DJ/producer (aka Kode9), a label founder/owner (Hyperdub), an author, and a noted academic – he has a PhD in philosophy, no less.

He’s been a busy guy, and while he’s probably best known at present for his work under the Kode9 moniker, it’s a fairly good bet that in years to come the now London-based Goodman will be best recalled for what he’s achieved with the Hyperdub label.

Hyperdub was of course one of the first independent labels to unleash what’s become known as dubstep upon an unsuspecting world when Burial’s much acclaimed self-titled debut was released on the fledgling imprint back in 2006. That album is widely credited with kick-starting the genre, and a year later Burial followed it up with his masterpiece Untrue, which cemented Hyperdub’s status as a leading player in what might loosely be called club or “dance music” circles.

In truth, Hyperdub is about so much more than just dubstep, and across its ten-year existence it has released a diverse range of music – from techno to grime to drum’n’bass to electro to Hip hop and multiple sub-genres in between.

It seems like only yesterday I found myself salivating over the release of Hyperdub 5, a compilation release celebrating the first five years of the label's life. But that was as long ago as 2009, and here we are, a full five years on, looking at tenth birthday celebrations and the release of 10.1. Apparently 10.1 is merely the first of four birthday or anniversary releases we'll see this year, and just like 5, it's a two disc set with new or recent tracks on disc one, and a collection of back catalogue releases on disc two.
In fact 10.1 almost feels like a companion release to 5 given that the archive disc only goes back about five years, effectively picking up where 5’s archive content left off. And 10.1 stands as testimony to the label’s diversity – where artists like Burial, Darkstar, Joker, and Zomby delivered the highlights on 5, the best moments on 10.1 are offered by the likes of Mala (‘Expected’), Flowdan (‘Ambush’), the recently deceased DJ Rashad (‘Acid Life’ with Gant-Man), and Kode9 himself, who again does his best work alongside the imposing growl of The Spaceape (on ‘Chasing A Beast’).
The aforementioned tracks all feature on disc one – as new or recent content – but perhaps disc two offers a better perspective of what Hyperdub is all about, where it’s been, and where it’s headed. Highlights among the archives being tracks by Burial (‘Spaceape’ featuring The Spaceape), Cooly G (‘It’s Serious’), DVA (‘Natty’), Ikonika (‘Idiot’), a couple more from Kode9, and a couple from grime merchant Terror Danjah.
Overall this is great value – the 36 tracks here (including three “bonus” tracks on my version) provide a superb overview of a hugely important and influential state-of-the-art label that shows no sign of slowing down or dipping in the quality of its output. Something worth celebrating after ten years. I eagerly await the three follow-up releases we’ve been promised in 2014. Thanks Hyperdub.

Here’s Flowdan with ‘Ambush’ ...

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