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Various Artists Hyperdub 10.2

Since its inception in 2004, Steve Goodman's (Kode9) Hyperdub label has provided a secure and critically acclaimed home for a wide spectrum of artists, most notably introducing the aloof and dark ambient dubstep of Burial and his germinal sophomore record Untrue.

This second of four tenth anniversary compilation releases acts as a testament to the output of the label in the last five years and celebrates the business-as-usual sounds of the artists, whilst offering a more shimmering and optimistic collection ideal for the summer. Eschewing the frat boy flavours of Skrillex and Rusko that have given the mainstream a new sound palette to assimilate, bleak and deep stalwarts like Burial and Fhloston Paradigm sit alongside breathy, soulful electronica artist Jessy Lanza. Also included are more sprightly tunes from Morgan Zarate, who serves up a slab of soulful hip hop in ‘Sticks and Stones’, a collaboration with Eska and Ghostface Killah. Viewing this as a compilation for the summer, it feels like a swaggering, somewhat disjointed, yet oddly engaging collection.

The issues with the release begin when you look into what you may be purchasing. The first instalment was essentially a retrospective of their dancefloor oriented pieces, the form of which brought the label up from its origins and forged their reputation as playing host to the burgeoning left-of-centre dubstep scene in the UK at the time. 10.1 clocked in at a hefty 33 tracks across two disks, whereas this playlist manages a sum total of fourteen, which generates somewhat of an identity crisis over the legacy Hyperdub are putting forward for the release. If the first part needed its length, then the brevity of 10.2 makes it read as an appendices of apocryphal or completist baiting outputs.

With the current state of access to music, this release feels like a fairly lazy effort given that it’s only being released digitally and on CD. If a decision is made to put the collected quartet out as a compendium vinyl release, with an enhanced aesthetic to match truly brilliant and celebratory outputs like Warp20, then it could be viewed as an essential release. For now it feels a little redundant.

Filed under: Various Artists