Where were you in 2002? Champagne bottles were emptying, Moschino labels fading and Ayia Napa was getting vicious. Garage had become a No.1 commodity. From the depths of this 2-step exhaustion, some new sounds from South London were starting to emerge and they were taking a far darker and heavier turn. Hyperdub, one of the early proponents of these emerging sounds, described by label founder Steve Goodman (aka Kode9) as “death garage”, was in the midst of shifting from an online magazine to a record label.
The label launched in 2004 at Plastic People, a venue that was home to FWD>> where Kode9 was one of the rotating residents. The night stayed true to its tagline “the future sound of the underground” supporting a lot of music coming out of the Big Apple record shop in Croydon and pushing music that just wouldn’t get played anywhere else. Kode9 was a major proponent of this movement with a slew of releases with The Spaceape displaying how adept he is handling a huge dynamic range and delivering some of the most engaging club music ever pressed.
But it’d be incredibly reductive to pair dubstep and Hyperdub so resolutely, in the ten years between then and now, the label has embraced the mutations and movements of the past decade with striking precision. Supporting and uncovering some of the most innovative producers around.
In anticipation of their 10th birthday celebration at The Art School on Friday, a selection of DJs from the city pick their favourite tracks from the label.
Mother (Rubadub / Fortified)
Kode9 + Daddi Gee – Sign Of The Dub/Stalker
This might seem like an obvious choice, but it actually holds a lot of personal memories this record. I think it was actually one of the first “dubstep” records I ever bought, fresh off the racks in Black Market the week it was released. Still such a stark and striking record, and is a good reminder as any of how challenging this sort of thing was initially.
Ill Blu – Dragon Pop
Bake: My favourite thing about the lineage of music from the UK, starting from jungle going upto dubstep is the attention and manipulation in regards to the sub. It’s the one coherent factor that runs through everything. This track is no different – everything about it is solid and i can never stop moving my shoulders when i hear it.
Cooly G – Narst
Ryan: One my favourite tracks from the label and London house at its finest – the title somehow describes the sound too.
Mungos Hi Fi
The Bug ft. Killa P & Flowdan – Skeng
That tune opened alot of doors for me, it got me into exploring heavier styles of bass music like grime & dubstep. It’s a classic that still smashes the dance to this day, simple as that.
Tom Marshallsay (General Ludd / Dam Mantle)
Massive Music – Find My Way (Kode9 RMX)
I don’t like favourites but let’s go with HYP006 – ‘Find my way’ purely for the memories it conjures up of hearing it at DMZ. Among the first dubstep records i bought thinking about it, my copy is in disgraceful shape. So yes, for the memories! coulda picked sine of the dub for the same reason.
Inkke (Astral Black)
Mark Pritchard feat. Om’mas Keith – Wind It Up
This track has a really simple but effective synth line that rolls along the beat perfectly, the catchy vocal sample loops and manipulates throughout, it’s a really strange production. The record also has the instrumental version on the flip which is always a plus.
Dark Star – Need You
Very difficult chose just one track from a label like Hyperdub, what with their groundbreaking releases from the likes of Zomby, King Midas Sound and Burial. But one song that really sticks out for me is Darkstar – Need You. It’s a great example of the UK sound that was really exciting between 2008-2010. All about the drop at 4mins, where the pitched up harpischords and robot vocals disappear leaving behind the snapping 2 step break and bassline. Will never get tired of this.
Inga Copeland & Dean Blunt – 1 Venice Dreamway
I’m pretty biased I think when it comes to Hype Williams, I’m obsessed with all of their stuff but Black is Beautiful is mind-altering. The whole LP sounds like a crisis and if you know anything about their relationship I guess it’s mirrored in their work together.
Konx-om-Pax (Planet Mu / Display Copy)
Burial – Shell Of Light (Untrue)
The first time I heard Burial I thought he was amazing as he managed to blend a bunch of my favourite music together, the minimal dub of Basic Channel and Pole mixed with UK Hardcore and Garage. The last minute of this track is extremely beautiful..
Fergus Clark (12th Isle Transmissions)
King Midas Sound – Goodbye Girl
This one is from the 2009 album ‘Waiting For You’, which I got the cd version of as a christmas present from my dad that year. It’s a collaborative project between UK legend Kevin Martin and Roger Robinson, with Kiki Hitomi contributing vocals on some of the tracks. This album manages to blend elements of dub, soul, trip-hop and dubstep together incredibly successfully. The whole of the album brings back really vivid memories of those times and I still listen to it now and again although sometimes the nostalgia can be difficult. ‘Goodbye Girl’ is maybe my favourite track though it’s really hard to decide. They also released a 12 inch single on Hyperdub the year before which included a great remix by Dabrye, aka JTC aka Tadd Mullinix.