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Hype Williams – Kelly Price W8 Gain Vol II review

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.

Oli Warwick