Kode 9 & The Spaceape – Black Sun review

Hyperdub head honcho Steve Goodman hooks up with The Spaceape five years after their debut album Memories Of The Future. Unsurprisingly, this is another eloquently crafted and superbly narrated journey, this time through an imagined post-apocalyptic wasteland where elements of dub, techno, house, dubstep and 2-step act as milestones in the existential gloom. Torchbearers of a brave new world, the Black Sun LP brings together politically charged spoken lyrics with religion, ethics and philosophy in a twelve track masterpiece.

From the dread riddim “Black Smoke” feat. Cha Cha things are unashamedly murky and mysterious, with tribal drums accentuated by the muttered narration. This is apparently a gesture to exorcise the last album – an interesting premise to start on and one that gets revisited throughout. Moving through the pattering, almost frantic “Promises” with its introspective echoes and sparkling sweeping synths, we get to grime-soaked “Bullet Against The Bone” and the more maudlin, synth-drenched “Green Sun”. Guest vocalist Cha Cha re-appears on “The Cure” as well as “Love Is The Drug” (which appeared as a 12” in ’09) and “Neon Red Sign”, adding her trademark soothing sentiments and husky pallor to the proceedings.

The duo return to previously released title track “Black Sun” but this is only a “Partial Eclipse” version enclosed in ellipses and full of hissing, mellifluous sounds. “Am I” – one of the stand out cuts from the album – shares a similar tone to that of King Cannibal – “Murder Us” with impassioned lyrics, snarling snares and an incarcerating b-line underpinning it all. “Kryon” – a collab with none other than Brainfeeder luminary Flying Lotus, is arguably the pièce de résistance of the album. Making the final artistic flourish, the trio splice delicate fire crackling cinders with the sound of heavy raindrops, overlaid by a melancholic synth haze. Whilst it may look to a dystopian future, this is an album very much of the now and makes for essential listening.

Belinda Rowse