Monday, April 18, 2011

REVIEW: Kode9 & The Spaceape - Black Sun [Hyperdub]

Here's the review I wrote for Kode9 and The Spaceape's new album Black Sun, out now on Hyperdub. This review was published in the current issue of Big Up Magazine.


In the seventh year since the induction of "Sine Of The Dub", a forshadowing of the Hyperdub empire, approaches the second long-player from the magistrate of permutations of all things sub and bass, Kode9, accompanied by his partner in grime, The Spaceape. Its title: Black Sun, due for dispersal in April 2011. As if blown from a supernova, along with the once nucleic center of sound-crafters surrounding the birth of a sound called dubstep, have expanded into their own respective spaces and thus continue their pursuit of a unique atmospheric ambience, each their own manifestation of sonic
evolution. This has not been made clearer than in the case of Kode9 and Hyperdub, who have over the years displayed a metamorphic growth, needlessly dispelling passing imitators with its consistent diversity. With Black Sun, it is as if the music’s aura plays shadowboxing with an antithetical adversary, of a Sun from the other side, as Spaceape’s lyric urges, “we need to find the enemy…”

Wasting no time on introductions, Black Sun bursts through a cloud of smoke into an otherworldly soundscape of subterranean vibrations and analog electronic synesthesia. The percussion
is crisp and rhythmic, deliberate and calculated, often tapping into the recent schizothemia for Roland’s foundational drum machines. Add to this the return of lyricist Spaceape’s arcane subliminal
hybrid, fusing elements and tempossubjugation, and the presence of symbiotic synergy is undeniable. Stylistically, it stands as a transgenic floating between nodes of dubstep, grimey funk, and cosmic electronica into a unique blend of arcane tribal-futurism.

It traverses an invisible landscape of uncertain terrain; the listener has no choice but to trust the conductor of such an apparatus, making a journey with a certain suspension of temporal distance, into temporary dissonance, resurfaced by harmonic scintillation, harnessed by Spaceape’s subfocal
suggestion. Making an entrance on this album is also Chinese emcee Cha Cha, lending her own style to the album’s mesomorphic nature. The result is on the whole remarkably effective and inspiring of movement. Closing out the album is “Kryon”, a collaboration with Flying Lotus that resounds with
an alien tinge, echoing with a distant Spaceape: a beatless descent that tickles the dendrites, offering a glimpse into the vast panorama of possibility that awaits in the yet to be imagined.

Certainly unique, and at times simply weird, Black Sun is for the imaginative listener, the explorative dancer. Its progression from their debut album in 2006 is provocative and impressive; it manages to maintain its own identity and displays a personal transformation, the vital core remaining unsullied by the wear and tear of temporal and cultural propagation. The development is only natural: artesian, as if a foundation were lain to allow it. Whether or not this is the case in reality, it is the reason it captivates us.

-Alex Incyde

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