Music Reviews

Dec 22 2019
cover
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: HyperSwim
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Hyperdub
This unexpected and rich compilation dropped into my inbox at quite short notice- and what a pleasant surprise. Nineteen completely brand-new tracks from Hyperdub-related artists, this is a digital-only release in collaboration with US network Adult Swim (hence the name), who get first dibs on streaming the release, before it gets a wider digital release later.

So here is new material from some big names- Kode9, Proc Fiscal, Ikonika, and Burial of course (in advance of Burial’s “Tunes 2011 to 2019” releasing next month, which- spoiler alert- is brilliant).

In keeping with the Hyperdub style, there’s both breadth and consistency in the sound. Classificaton-wise, it’s all electronica, and there’s a crispness and glitchiness that unites many of the tracks, along with steady stepping grooves. Tracks like Ikonika’s “Primer” perhaps sum it up best. But there’s also variety, a good bucketload of it, to keep things interesting- Proc Fiskal’s weirdly hypnotic “Devilish River”, or Laurel Halo’s bubbly and unpredictable “Crush”. Hyperdub’s open-minded international approach shines through.

People expecting 2007-era dubstep from the Burial track will be a bit surprised, as while there are shades of it in the vocal echo, “Old Tape” is much closer to synthwave, almost sounding like Tangerine Dream in the synths.

Other highlights include the sparse, electro-African “Baka” from Scratch DVA, and Kode9’s dramatic and string driven “Cell3”, and the thrumping techno of Lee Gamble’s “Chain”.

The more grime-electronica tilt of Hyperdub’s style is represented well in tracks like Okzharp & Manthe Ribane’s “In Your Own Time”. In a release dominated by instrumentals, or tracks that use short vocal samples as mantras like DJ Haram’s lightly filthy “Get It”, there’s a ‘vocal section’ of sorts that starts with DJ Taye’s “Inferno” which has an actual multi-verse rap. Speaking personally there are some grime tracks (generally, not just on this compilation) that I’d much rather hear as instrumentals, and there are shades of that here.

Most of the tracks are around three minutes long and it’s true that some of them could be leftovers or residual work, what ‘normal’ bands might call B-side material, but there’s nothing here that sounds like filler- not even mildly. If this were a solo artist album I’d be praising it as one of the albums of the year. Kudos to Adult Swim for presumably doing something positive to get behind a release like this. A great compilation from an electronica label that never seems to drop the ball.



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