Release Date: Apr 17, 2012
Record label: Hyperdub
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
For those who have followed the inscrutable trajectory of the duo known as Hype Williams since their early releases on De Stijl, it may be tempting to view Black Is Beautiful as a breakthrough of some sort. For the first time, the album bears the names Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland rather than Hype Williams, presumably a preemptive strategy to avoid litigation by the still very much in demand hip-hop video director. The album also carries the imprimatur of Hyperdub, the London label responsible for breaking highly-acclaimed electronic acts Burial and Zomby.
I'm not sure if the group formerly known as Hype Williams are going by their (supposedly) given names now because of a copyright issue, or because their potentially imaginary third member Denna Glass is gone. Either way, things don't sound all that different on Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland's first full album for Hyperdub. Which is to say, it's another long-form record of condensation-soaked tapes, warbly VHS reels and badly compressed YouTube rips.
Pitchfork's Paul Thompson began his review of Hype Williams' 2011 album One Nation by struggling to discover exactly who was behind the music. Were they called Inga Copeland and Roy Blunt? Or perhaps Karen Glass and Roy Nnawuchi? For their debut full-length on Hyperdub, the duo present themselves as Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland. Just don't bank on those being their real names, or any kind of indication of a settled moniker for future releases.
Dean Blunt and Inga CopelandBlack Is Beautiful[Hyperdub; 2012]By Jay Lancaster; May 7, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweet2011 was the year of the free mixtape. Acts like Danny Brown, Death Grips, and A$AP Rocky all broke through by releasing music for no charge. Amid these successes were some tapes that passed completely under the radar.
As if Hype Williams weren’t evasive enough, naming themselves after Busta Rhymes’ video director, they’ve now become even more shadowy by going under their real names - their real stage names, that is. They’re easy to tell apart in reality: 'Dean Blunt' is the sage ex-boxer, currently sought on charges of robbing sixteen taxidermists (no really), and 'Inga Copeland' is his feisty devotchka who’s just done a trial for Arsenal girls. Side by side, you could be looking at the Ting Tings of bass music.
Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland are the duo behind Hype Williams, whose history of self-mythologising and alienation tactics (no track names!) acts as a filter against those intolerant of pretentious bullshit. A shame, as their take on the contracted attention span, James Ferraro-style data stream of consciousness meme is an interesting one. There’s medicated pop smothered in tape hiss, organ workouts over dub techno stabs, flashes of R&B and ambient synth drones.
Distorted, thought-provoking fare from the enigmatic production duo. Chris Power 2012 Black Is Beautiful is the fourth album the enigmatic production duo Hype Williams have produced in three years, recording here as Dean Blunt - a pseudonym - and Inga Copeland - possibly her real name, but with these two, who knows? Naming themselves after a director of hip hop music videos is just one of the many pieces of bafflement and misdirection the pair traffic in: they met at an Oasis gig in 1996; they’re part of an art project masterminded by a woman called Denna Frances Glass. These things and more may or may not be true, which may or may not be the point.
There's something inherently pretentious in writing about art that the artists themselves are reluctant to discuss. Not that it makes things any easier when they provide lengthy statements explaining what it's all supposed to mean. That stuff is often more dreary and awkward than enlightening. At least when Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland resist discussing these things, their responses seem solely designed to further inveigle their audiences, fueling hyperactive speculation and endless online commentary.