Hippos In Tanks have just announced details of a vinyl release of Hype Williams troubadour Dean Blunt’s Narcissist II mixtape.
With the countdown to Bloc 2012 well and truly on, we have listed our five must-see acts at the festival.
It’s not been made clear why Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland opted to drop the Hype Williams moniker in advance of this album for Hyperdub. Given the somewhat glib, intellectual appendage-swinging approach us writers have taken to their music since they surfaced, it’s possible they saw it as just another way to have us endlessly theorising. This shift in presence to their own supposedly fake names is the only difference on Black Is Beautiful, a gradually intoxicating album that retains every other aspect of the hazed out world of malfunctioning equipment Blunt and Copeland have occupied across countless releases.
While the Juno Plus team was in recovery mode this weekend after an extremely fun Friday night at Oscillate Wildly, Hype Williams troubadour Dean Blunt sneaked out a 30 minute continuous mixtape of solo productions.
Since their emergence via numerous releases across a myriad of labels, Hype Williams have seemingly delighted in confounding and confusing all who dip into their fuzzy lo-fi world of faux myths, intrigue and ambiguity. This year has nudged them closest to the spotlight, with an album for Hippos in Tanks and a debut EP for Hyperdub – both of which perfectly encapsulate the music lover’s relationship with them. You either retain a curiosity about Hype Williams that ensures any of their new material will get checked, or the bile engulfs you and they get dismissed wholesale as the latest in a long line of jokers.
For this writer, it is most certainly the former, and amidst rumours of more material forthcoming on Kode9’s Hyperdub imprint, it’s the bands solo endeavours this year that have been perhaps the most interesting development in the ongoing Hype Williams story. Firstly, Inga Copeland slipped out a blink and you’ve already spent too long procrastinating white label twelve inch on Rush Hour entitled Trample over the summer, which can be aligned with the smudged out sounds of Not Not Fun’s resident Amazonian Estonian, Maria Minerva. And now Dean Blunt joins her on the Dutch label with this curio of a release, a one sided twelve inch supposedly fronted by an elusive singer called Ramirez which has the Hype Williams member on button pushing duties.
Repeat listens to “AMY” reveals the track to sound like the intriguing end results of a day in the studio together between Parris Mitchell and Jamal Moss. Much like both their output for Dance Mania and Mathematics respectively, “AMY” is not a track notable for its subtlety – the track is brash in the way it wastes little time launching into groove, and features some laughably risqué vocals, sung with coke addled glee by the mysterious Ramirez over the lolloping mutant disco beat. The saturated nature of the production is wholly reminiscent of Moss, sounding like it’s been rescued from years of degradation in a basement archive and then overdubbed with spiralling phasers that lend the track a wholly psychedelic edge.
Bathed in the fuzzy glow of a knackered VHS, the Hype Williams myth and wonder continues on its directionless yet highly arresting voyage. Coming to light on a wave of internet support, the shadowy group are in the fortunate position of making their name on an uncompromising and individual sound, leaving them free license to take it where they will.
It’s not hard to see why Kode 9 would have wanted to snap up some tracks for his Hyperdub imprint. The key component of the HW sound is the kind of malnourished synthesiser treatment that would get Kode reported if such a thing were illegal. It’s hard to fake this kind of degraded, ever-so-slightly detuned drone, and that’s exactly what makes the music so captivating. It genuinely sounds like it was made in a grotty broom-cupboard flat in a dilapidated part of New York in the 1980s; evocative in the same way that Burial was for South London when everyone went potty for dubstep.
Sometimes this perfectly fashioned imperfection does come off being a little contrived at the cost of a good track, but then this is music made for its style as much as its substance. On this EP, “Rise Up” shines through as the most complete realisation of what Hype Williams are striving for. Mournful pads muddle into each other while the wobbly singing reveals a fragility that comes from real emotion. For all the considered analogue erosion, there is a heart-and-soul emotional message in the music. After a few listens it’s hard not to succumb to the misty-eyed reverie and bask in the nostalgia of it all.