The third installation of Hyperdub’s four compilations of 2014 to celebrate 10 years of existence is focused entirely on ambient … and that should tell you everything you need to know about it, really; the label isn’t known for this genre and they know it. The players are rarely able to scrap together a discernible melody in the same way the label was barely able to scrap together a full disc’s worth (Hyperdub 10.1 spanned two full discs and sells for only a buck more); a lot of these songs are just four notes on a simple chord progression and fuck all else (Walton’s “City of God”, King Midas Sound’s “Blue”, Darkstar’s “Ostkreuz”); DJ Earl’s “Hexgonic Soundtrack” sounds exactly like you’d think a footwork artist given one minute on an organ would sound like. Pitchfork‘s Nate Patrin evokes Brian Eno’s Music for Films as an example of an ambient album comprised of short skits that can work, and while that’s true of Music for Films, it’s not of Hyperdub 10.3 because these short songs aren’t linked in any sort of way, probably because a lot of them were short inconsequential interludes on their own respective albums that have been piecemealed together into this compilation.
Burial’s “In Mcdonalds” (which you should already have from Untrue) has a nice vocal sample; Dean Blunt’s “Urban” has a nice wavering saxophone juxtaposed with the synth riff; Inga Copeland’s “I Am Your Ambient Wife” has a nice vocal sample that’s Board of Canada-esque that unfortunately disappears halfway through; DVA’s “Reach the Devil” has some nice counterpointing vocals; Fhloston Paradigm’s “Liloo’s Seduction” is the best song here because it has room to grow and because Fhloston Paradigm is the only artist of the bunch who operates in this genre. The worst of the series, and my contempt for music “for slitting your wrists” knows no bounds, especially when that music fails to serve its intended purpose. The year before, Kode9 said that “So much electronic music feels so sluggish, plodding and rhythmically boring these days,” and I could not have put it better myself.