Various Artists – Hyperdub 10.4

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The fourth and final installation of Hyperdub’s four compilations of 2014 to celebrate 10 years of existence is the best one, probably because it isn’t focussed on anything specific (recall: Hyperdub 10.1 focussed on the label’s dance-oriented songs, 10.2 on R&B and 10.3 on ambient), though I’ve seen reviews trying to pigeonhole 10.4 into a similar category, don’t listen to them. Unfortunately, it seems Hyperdub’s oversaturation in 2014 has worked against them (or perhaps just the mediocrity of the preceding two installments); Pitchfork slapped a respectable and not-BNM score on it and walked away and Resident Advisor did not even bother reviewing it.

The selling point is the unearthed Burial song, placed at the start of the compilation, and I have no idea why this wasn’t on either Burial or Untrue where it would have been a highlight: a fuzzy melody, chiming bright lights breaking through the blur, all served with the fluid-like drums that are distinctively Burial’s. Twice the song that “Temple Sleeper” is, the single released a year later, but I guess no one cared about this one because it wasn’t given its own release. (The second disc opens with “Street Halo,” the best track from the EP with the same name that was released during Burial’s transition between Untrue and his newfound love and ambition for longer players starting with Kindred … which you should already have.)

But unlike 10.2 and 10.3 where the obligatory Burial songs were clearly some of the best those discs had to offer, 10.4 offers two full discs of non-stop action even disregarding those two songs. Some missteps: Bambounou’s remix of Jessy Lanza’s “Fuck Diamond” could have easily been substituted by an original Jessy Lanza (who remains the best R&B artist in Hyperdub’s arsenal), nothing happens in LV’s “Boomslang” except Okmalumkoolkat’s rave-up vocals which are kind of annoying; Cooly G’s “Narst” is the standard synthesized string + drums thing that I’ve been sick of ever since 2006’s “Cockney Violin,” except this one never seems to end (Cooly G’s three other contributions – she has the most of any artist here – are all much better, even if they sound the same: a warm swirl of synths and a melodic vocal fluttering in and out).

Details from the first disc: the skittering riff of Walton’s “Laser War”; Kode9’s compilation-only track “Oh,” which constantly alternates between a skitteri—uh, scampering fuzz section and UK bass goodness; the aggressive synth line in Ikonika’s “Position VIP”; the blaring alarm throughout Funkystepz’ “Fuller Rev VIP”; Fhloston Paradigm’s “The Phoenix,” the centerpiece of Fhloston Paradigm’s album with the same name, which is an updated version of “Liloo’s Seduction” (available on 10.3) and though I think Nils Frahm did either song better with “Says” (available the year before “The Phoenix”), there are an unfortunate shortage of songs that climax so well, so who cares?

Details from the second disc:  Kode9’s “Love is the Drug,” that takes what sounds like a sample that Depeche Mode uses to open tracks (ie. “Halo”) and uses it to harmonize with Cha Cha’s vocals throughout, and the climax, wherein she repeats “This love is going to tighten ‘round your neck” is repeated in a way that feels genuinely suffocating; the affecting vocal sample in Walton’s “Need to Feel”; the call and response between the piano line and the steel drums in the John Roberts Remix of Darkstar’s “Gold” (also: you’d think they would have used “Aidy’s Girl’s a Computer” instead) and the call and response between the two melodies in Ill Blu’s “Bellion”; the jazzy piano line buried in Laurel Halo’s “Chance of Rain.”

Last word: maybe their best compilation so far (and I’m not just talking about their 10.X series; I’m also taking the DJ Rashad tribute, Next Life, which was disappointing, into consideration), and if you’re looking to get into Hyperdub artists not named Burial or DJ Rashad, this is the place to go, because few Hyperdub artists have managed to scrap together an album’s worth of good material, even though most of them have been strong-armed by demand into making albums when clearly singles and EPs are their forte.

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One response to “Various Artists – Hyperdub 10.4

  1. Pingback: Jessy Lanza / DJ Spinn / Taso – You Never Show Your Love [EP] | Free City Sounds·

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