Release Date: Jun 17, 2014
Record label: Hyperdub
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Club/Dance, Garage Rap/Grime, Dubstep, Left-Field Hip-Hop
Hyperdub isn't like many other labels. It's stayed at the forefront of UK electronic music for its entire lifetime, tracing an erratic but intuitive thread through dubstep, UK funky, footwork and grime, always staying one step ahead of everyone else. Reflecting how wide its purview has become, Hyperdub's tenth anniversary release is mammoth but compartmentalized: four separate compilations, each highlighting a dimension of the label.
In 2003, writer Steve Goodman, now known to keyed-in music nerds as the producer Kode9, was interviewing Kevin Martin, the mastermind behind the bombed-out dub project the Bug, for dance publication XLR8R. The conversation turned to dubstep, the roots of which were just starting to take hold in London; Martin heard a track of Goodman’s, who was just then cutting his teeth as a producer, and he encouraged him to start a label to release it, promising to help find a distributor. Less than a year later came HYP001, “Sign of the Dub” b/w “Stalker”, a collaborative release between Kode9 and UK rapper Spaceape (then credited as Daddy Gee).
In the past decade, the Hyperdub imprint has astutely guided us through the mass of micro-genres that followed in the wake of UK garage, and now this set gets the ball rolling for the label’s 10th anniversary. Disc One harbours new material, and the second some of their gems from the last few years; the quality is generally very high and there is much creativity, leaving the mind racing to catch up. In fact, newcomers may find the sheer scale of the venture daunting.
Like 2009's 5 Years of Hyperdub, 2014's Hyperdub 10.1 looks back on five years of releases from Kode9's label while paying equal attention to the present. The setup is similar: a disc worth of fresh material joined by a similar quantity of past highlights. In addition to standouts from long-term Hyperdub artists like DVA, Burial, and Kode9 himself, the disc of new material features a brilliant six-track stretch from Chicago's Teklife crew of footwork producers.
Hyperdub is perceived as either a dance label for chinstrokers or an important chapter in the tale of how dubstep went mainstream. Neither point of view gives the full picture. Founded in 2004 by Steve Goodman, better known as producer Kode9, the label came to the fore in 2008 when Burial’s second album, ‘Untrue’, was nominated for the Mercury Prize.
Although Hyperdub Records was founded by Scottish producer Kode9 to promote a fresh new genre called "dubstep," the label's ten-year anniversary compilation has the late DJ Rashad's influence written all over it. A 33-track overview of Hyperdub's first decade (that confusingly only focuses on its past five years), Hyperdub 10. 1 documents the label's sound, from polyrhythmic dubstep to the more melodic footwork, a genre pioneered by Rashad and his Teklife crew (who are more than well represented here).
Although some of the greatest thrills to be found in the discovery of new music can be experienced via the emphatic demolition of one’s preconceptions, just occasionally it can be refreshing to have your expectations proven right. The new Hyperdub compilation, released to celebrate a decade in business, provides the label’s dedicated fanbase with such an occasion. As one of the UK’s most vital electronic imprints, Hyperdub’s output is consistent in its excellence and stylistic variety, which suggests that two discs of music carefully selected to showcase the best of the label’s roster should be a multi-faceted, exhilarating must-listen.