Release Date: Mar 14, 2011
Record label: Hippos in Tanks
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Experimental Rock
Borrowing their name from the feted video director, Hype Williams could be – depending which rumours you believe – an "18-year relay project" conceived by a husband-and-wife pairing of motivational speakers, or even a side project of the singer Joss Stone, but only slightly more prosaically, it appears they're Roy Blunt (aka Roy Nnawuchi) and Inga Copeland, a duo from Hackney and Estonia, respectively. It's not simply their identity that the pair cloak so teasingly: the music they make is like a series of palimpsests, all woozy basslines, stuttering tempos and glacial washes of synths that feel like a hollowing out of several narrative strands in pop history. And while, for some, two spoken-word tracks – Untitled and Untitled (And Your Batty's So Round) – may bring to mind nothing so much as Baz Luhrmann's Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen), others may find it all strangely addictive.
When talking about a new band, two common questions are: (1) Who are they?, and (2) What do they sound like? Many acts arrive with ready answers to these questions. “We are Band X and we like/listen to/play this, that and the other.” Plenty of artists resist definite answers, but often have those questions answered on their behalf by the press or listeners. So what do you do then when you encounter a band that cannot have either question answered completely? Your reaction probably says more about you than the subject in question.Hype Williams is for the curious.
A large part of the image that Hype Williams have cultivated – and that is the right word; e-leafing through their interviews and scanning their YouTube channel make it clear their public persona is as meticulously controlled as Lady Gaga or Simon Cowell – is based on their anonymity. Moreover, the duo appear to go about their business this way because it amuses them, rather than because they have day jobs or other projects which would conflict with Hype Williams somehow. As far as a layperson such as myself can work out, the male half of the band is called Roy and was in an early incarnation of London indie yelpers Graffiti Island; the female might be called Karen and might not have made any other music of note.
Hype Williams are, ostensibly, a London-based duo comprised of one Inga Copeland and one Roy Blunt. Except Inga's name might be Karen Glass, and Roy Blunt may actually be Roy Nnawuchi. It's possible neither exists; some have suggested Hype Williams may in fact be a much larger collective, while others have offered the name Denna Frances Glass as a potential culprit.
Even [a]Kasabian[/a] must be dimly aware that hauntology isn’t the study of things that go bump in the night by now, but [a]Hype Williams[/a] make hay with the past-bothering shtick better than most. The Berlin-based duo’s second album of pink-eyed, pitched-down aural smush takes in melted R&B jams ([b]‘Your Girl Smells Chung When She Wears Dior’[/b]), queasy pop ([b]‘Businesslike’[/b]) and tetchy IDM ([b]‘Warlord’[/b]). But, lacking as it does the songwriting spark of [a]Ariel Pink[/a], the record lacks cohesion.