Hyperdub 10.4 Martyn's "Megadrive Generation" (Dorian Concept Rmx)

Hyperdub inhabits a very unique space within the electronic music landscape. As one of the few truly innovative dance music labels, Hyperdub is among a very small group of labels (think Brainfeeder, Warp, Planet-Mu, etc.) responsible for keeping forward-thinking, intelligent bass music in the dance music zeitgeist. In an era of over-hyped “EDM,” and all of the ugly trappings that go along with it, it’s refreshing to see the staying power of truly innovative underground music.

For it’s 10th anniversary as a label, Hyperdub has released a 4-part series of compilation records that document the label’s genre-crossing output of bass music, footwork, R&B, ambient, and now with the 10.4 release, the label’s output of house, techno and garage. This ambitious 2-CD release features 28 tracks from artists like Burial, Kode9, Ikonika, Fhloston Paradigm, Kyle Hall, Jessy Lanza and so many more – so let’s dive-in!

Below is our track-by-track breakdown of Hyperdub’s 10.4 release, including an exclusive listen to one of our favorites, Dorian Concept’s remix of Martyn’s “Megadrive Generation.”  Stream that remix here and purchase 10.4 on Hyperdub.net or Bleep.

CD 1:

Burial – Lambeth – The kick off is a previously unreleased track by Burial. With his now signature ghosted 2-step and otherworldly melodies, this one sets the stage for some classics from the Hyperdub vault.

Cooly G – Him Da Biz – A funky techno joint that’s somewhat reminiscent of 808 State, this track’s build-release-build structure allows the song to breathe, without ever slowing down the pace.

Ossie + Phrh – Ugly Observation – This jam is tribal house mixed with dub. A minimal vocal stab is present throughout the track, giving it a somewhat paranoid feeling, but like a happy-ending massage, even though you’re paranoid, there’s a really nice finish.

Funkystepz – Vice Versa – This joint is a 4/4 analog techno affair, but there are juxtaposed forces at play here. Like James Brown meeting Walter Gropius for a studio session, this track is balance of tension and release, that settles somewhere soulful and ice cold.

Walton – Lazer War – This is other worldly dance music. Starting sparsely with what sounds almost like a click track, this song grows, punctuated by a kinetic synth-line that builds and builds before a double-time muted kick-drum opens up and sucks you into a vortex of alien sounds.

Kode9 – Oh – As one of the more straight-ahead techno tracks on the album, this has all of the hallmarks of a classic. The arpeggiated synth (think Model 500’s No UFO’s), coupled up with an overlay that feels like a crawling Kenny Larkin mid-range synth cira Azimuth.

Ikonika – Position VIP – An electro stomper, with low fi high-hats accented by stabby vocal samples. An almost siren-like synth sound accentuates this driving track to it’s logical conclusion.

Funkystepz – Fuller (Rev VIP) – A twitchy analog techno track, with fingerprints of early Detroit techno all over it.

Martyn – Megadrive Generation Dorian Concept – (Listen to our exclusive stream above!) A glitch soundscape with syncopated machine-like noises that sound like they’re being played underwater. Once it emerges from the murky deep, the 2-step rhythm and moody organ give it just enough soul to return back to the depths from where it came. Beware the post-modern ping-pong game being played in the background.

Fhloston Paradigm – The Phoenix – This more space-age alias of King Britt sees him breaking out the 606 kick drum being run through an Echoplex with wobbly baselines and just barely audible acid lines that punch through the haze and fog then retreat back to Philadelphia for a cheesesteak and some OJ for that Acid hangover.

DVA – Monophonic Dreams – A jam with a bubbly and bouncy acid line, coupled with a vocal that drives the track, this acid-tinged stomper is right at home with DVA’s considerable output.

Jessy Lanza – Fuck Diamonds (Bambounou remix) – This track is a syncopated and stripped-down affair that sounds as if it could have been released on Wax Trax back in the day. It has all of the hallmarks of a good industrial dance track, mixed with all of the soul of a Detroit techno track at it’s most emotive.

Cooly G – Love Again – As is the arch of this record, this track is a timeless affair that could snuggle-in nicely with any of Kevin Saunderson’s best-known club joints.

Kyle Hall – Kaychunk – This track has an electro backbeat, a complex bass-line and strings á la Aphex Twin, then lurches forward with an arpeggio synth line that goes from bone-dry to concert hall wet and back again.

CD 2:

Burial – Street Halo – Unmistakably a Burial track: the pulsing 2-step rhythm, other-worldly pitched vocal samples, inside a blissful cavernous chamber. A modern requiem.

Kode9 & The Spaceape feat. Cha Cha – Love is the Drug – A sullen love song, driving and brittle, bright bass lines, Dr.Who-style glide synths accented by staccato punches and melancholy vocals.

Cooly G – Love Dub Refix – With a beautiful classic house cord progression, angelic, dubbed-out female vocals, anchored by a subtle and complex electro beat, it could easily be played in a lounge context, but is equally at home at an early slot club night.

Walton – Need to Feel – A moody, male vocal lead on this one, driven by building rhythm track, half deep house, half atmospheric funk, this one’s vibrating and progressive build-drop-build programming is something that feels instantly like something you’ve heard before.

Darkstar – Gold (John Roberts Rmx) – This track starts off sounding like a live jazz band, until the 808 bass-kick, toms and claps come in, mingling with the live session, until after the drop when what sounds like the ghost of Karl Hyde singing something under water that sounds like “I hate disco” interplays with the 808, then the orchestra of all of the elements combine to form the main course of blunted funk.

DVA – Step 2 Funk – A stomper right out of the gate, this track is rich with break beats and solid 4/4 kick that’s accentuated by the repeat call of “funk” over and over.

LV & Okmalumkoolkat – Boomslag – The most dancehall of the tracks in this compilation, this track booms with a toasting MC that keeps this track hyped and driving. The double-time snap of the snares and the intricate high-end synth line maneuver in and out of the track as to not be too wonky, with just the right amount build, drop and repeat and always with an eye on the low end.

Ill Blu – Bellion – Another track in the cannon that begins with a driving 4-on-the-floor snare combo thats become a signature of the uptempo jams on the Hyperdub roster, this one has some very nice vibes (as in the instrument, not the feeling) mixed with low-end horns used as the bass line and Afro-Cuban mid-section that would make even the most uptight chin stroker want to get up and shake his ass.

Scratcha DVA – Walk It Out – A solid 707 driver, with washes of white noise synth kicked this track off, until the first build and drop, where a simple, but stern voice commands you to “Walk It Out,” then the bass kicks in and with almost train-like precision elements are dropped in and out. The swirling white noise is pierced with sparkly placed siren-stabs, washing in and receding like a techno tide.

Cooly G – Narst – This piece of noir techno starts off with darkly tinted strings with a 4/4 beat that pulses under the sub-bass and midsection claps, that stop and wait for the washing sound of what could be a black hole eating a planet. Pure spaceship business here.

Walton – 808 Vybzin – Very true to its name, this track takes all the lovely sounds of an 808, but kicks the complexity up a notch by creating something that sounds like an orchestra completely composed of 808 sounds. Again, like it’s contemporaries on this record, is has a very classic feel. This track sounds like the offspring of A Guy Called Gerald and Jackmaster Farley.

Laurel Halo – Noyfb – One of the more chaotic tracks on this compilation, the sounds of a Linn drum and accentuated by a fidgety and running synth pattern that sits just underneath the surface of the track, ebbing and flowing in between syncopated heavy laser-bass blasts, with a mid-level syne wave tone that gets eaten up by melodic static. A beautiful gumbo of sounds that could be the soundtrack of a surreal dream.

Scratcha DVA – Polyohonic Dreams – A mid-size room, a 606 drum, and SH101 and multiple octaves give this track a send of being on a possessed ferris wheel.

Laurel Halo – Chance of Rain – The closing track is straight out of the Underground Resistance playbook. A hard-driving 135+ beat with beautiful and lush sounds that add a beautiful counter to the drive.

What’s most amazing about this release is the consistency with other releases in this series. With all of the tracks pulled from releases over the last 5 years, it’ an amazing testament to a solid roster and a comprehensive vision for what a label can be. A meticulously curated group of artists and tracks are represented here that represent the best of what is possible when you take an academic (let’s not forget that Kode9 holds a PhD) who has a real love for street music and pursues it passion, drive and desire.

Here’s celebrating a happy 10-year anniversary to Hyperdub, and wishes for many more decades to come!

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