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“Hyperdub 10.2” (Various Artists) – Album Review

Hyperdub (2014)

The second of four compilations released to coincide with the tenth anniversary of one of the dance scene’s most forward-thinking labels, Hyperdub 10.2 eschews the dark murky instrumentals of its predecessor to cast some sun on both its more conventional songwriting prowess and its roster of artists at the forefront of boundary-pushing electro-R&B.

Several of the 14 cuts on offer will already be familiar to those who have immersed themselves in the London label’s innovative world, from their star name Burial’s “Shell of Light,” a nocturnal and typically disjointed two-step garage affair taken from his ground-breaking 2007 debut Untrue, to the wondrous space-age jazz-soul of Philly producer Fhloston Paradigm’s “Never Defeated,” to a classic footwork anthem from the late DJ Rashad, “Only One.”

But alongside inspired collaborations between Morgan Zarate, Eska and Ghostface Killah (“Sticks & Stones”), DVA & Fatima (“Just Vybe”) and Terror Danjah and Meleka (“You Make Me Feel”), Hyperdub 10.2 also serves up a number of new offerings, all of which indicate that the label’s next ten years will be as intriguing as its first.

Canadian songstress Jessy Lanza’s “You and Me,” a featherlight blend of skittering beats, aquatic synths and soaring melodies every bit as glorious as her debut album (whose highlight, “5785021,” also appears here), perhaps deserves top billing. But Dam-Funk’s tongue-in-cheek take on Ikonika’s “Mr Cake,” which transforms the original’s early Nintendo soundtrack vibes into a playful funk workout worthy of a place on Chromeo’s next record, Cooly G’s slinky slow jam “Obsessed” and the scattergun dancehall of label owner Kode9’s closer “Lies, Lies,” also showcase Hyperdub’s knack of taking R&B into some downright weird and yet utterly wonderful places.

A timely reminder that there’s more to the influential label than their “dread-filled reputation” would suggest, Hyperdub 10.2 is a well-chosen blend of classic and contemporary which proves that their decade in the business is undeniably worth celebrating.

4 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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