sun 16/06/2019

CD: Kode9 & The Spaceape - Black Sun | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Kode9 & The Spaceape - Black Sun

CD: Kode9 & The Spaceape - Black Sun

Can deep electronica and politicised dub poetry escape worthiness?

But, paradoxically, as anyone with half an inkling about Kode9 and the Hyperdub label will expect, it is very much of the now, too. The sparkling detail of the synthesiser work that oozes around the beats and lyrics, and the impeccable ear for the current rhythms of the zone where council estate pirate radio culture bleeds into more leftfield dance scenes, make it unquestionably an album of the third millenium. There is no reworking of the past, nor any direct referencing of it, but there is a sense of similar aesthetic responses emerging from similar conditions. It leads to a kind of dislocation, a short-circuiting of time zones which one guesses may well be deliberate given that the duo's previous album was called Memories of the Future.

If all this makes it sound grim and worthy, it's not. Kode9's immersion in club music means there is an inescapable sensualism and compelling druggy, synaesthesic quality even to his starkest and least danceable pieces – and Spaceape's vocal is an atmospheric instrument, words that could sound adolescent or preachy from lesser vocalists placed elegantly in the wider audio picture to subtly powerful effect. The closest obvious parallel might be the sexily claustrophobic murmerings of Tricky's glorious Maxinquaye album, but this is much more elegant in its weirdness, a high-tech and strangely lush landscape of dark imaginings and fierce pride. It may not be pushing as fast into the future as some of the younger acts Kode 9 has signed to Hyperdub, but to expect it to is missing the point: this is not just a sonic experiment or a set of peak club tracks but a considered, endlessly listenable and quite timeless album.

Listen to Kode9 & The Spaceape's "Am I"

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