12.06.12

The 12 best Hyperdub 12″s

Hyperdub has, arguably, done more than any other one label to shape British underground music during the extraordinary explosion of the last 10 years. Set up to, in label founder Kode9’s words, give dubstep that which it has told itself it is not, it’s formed a bristling, defiantly untidy mix of strange, beautiful music from across the electronic spectrum. Its roster spans from Zomby’s tight eski to Hype Williams’s looping dub and includes albums like from Laurel Halo’s vast techno innerspace trip ‘Quarantine’ to Darkstar’s romantic, epic, reticent synthpop masterpiece ‘North’. Both Terror Danjah’s gloriously structureless R&G to Burial’s peerless night dramas have found a home here, and, given that they are hosting a huge evening at London’s Koko tomorrow night, we thought we’d count down our favourite 12 12“s from their eight-year catalogue.

  1. Burial – South London Boroughs EP [2005]
    The throaty and unrelenting bass of South London Boroughs creates a weightily dark atmosphere matching the inky garage beat which resides throughout this EP. Our journey travelling up and down the scaling synths in Southern Comfort along with the rainy beat and contrasting warm vocals of Night Train and Broken Home conjure an atmosphere of adventure and wildness.
  2. Darkstar – Aidy’s Girls’ A Computer [2009]
    Darkstar use characteristic emotive synths and a simple bass to create melancholic yearning between man and machine in the beautiful Aidy’s Girl’s A Computer, which compliment the vocoder laden vocals turning this track into a robotic ballad.
  3. Zomby – Mu5h / Spliff Dub [2008]
    Zomby’s incredible ‘Mush / Sliff Dub’ EP sees Mu5h build steadily with an unfaltering bass line and tension-building string samples; while Spliff Dub is heavily layered with a sustained melodic vocal sample draped over deep synth bleeps.
  4. Darkstar – Gold / Gold (John Roberts remix) [2010]
    Darkstar’s follow-up to the astounding Aidy’s Girl Is A Computer was a right turn, a subtle, slowly building cover of an obscure Human League track that announced them as one of the best designers of pop songs around.
  5. King Midas Sound – Cool Out / One Ting (Dabrye remix) / Lost (Flying Lotus remix) [2008]
    The mighty Kevin Martin’s dub project revealed the vast hidden depths and poetry underneath his noisier projects like The Bug and Ice/God. Cool Out, backed by two extraordinary remixes, is a masterpiece in creeping yet comforting dread.
  6. Terror Danjah – You Make Me Feel / Morph [2011]
    If Hyperdub was the label set up to tell dubstep what it had told itself it was not, then Terror Danjah served some similar purpose to grime, producing psychedelic, riotous R&G anthems like Morph and You Make Me Feel with astounding momentum and speed.
  7. Hype Williams – Kelly Price W8 Gain Vol II [2011]
    Confounding, witty, emo as hell and rooted in London pirate radio music culture from dub to rave to grime, Hype Williams were a natural fit for Hyperdub, and 2011’s ‘Kelly Price W8 Gain Vol II’ was one of the sweetest, most delicate and simplest pieces of music they’ve ever released.
  8. Joker – Digidesign / You Don’t Know What Love Is [2009]
    The tectonic weight of Joker’s A-side was the most jaw-dropping on release, but as the years run on, it’s You Don’t Know What Love Is, a gentler take on digital funk and deep purple of the sound that has my heart.
  9. Cooly G – Narst / Love Dub [2009]
    Rising from the London underground, Cooly G expertly manages to attune this distinct EP with a hybrid of rumbling dynamic bass throughout, and the sensually moving vocals of ‘Love Dub’ which harmonise and live symbiotically within her sound.
  10. Ikonika – Please / Simulacrum [2008]
    Ikonika’s multi-textural debut EP really highlights the dynamism of electronic music and stimulates the urge for dark clubs and flashing lights. The self-propelling ‘Please’ builds pace, developing until the turning point ‘Simulacrum’ which unifies shimmery synths and a notoriously catchy bass line.
  11. Kode9 – Sine / Stalker [2004]
    Label founder Steve Goodman’s Kode9 project has become a by-word for the claustrophobic, intricate dubstep, but it’s this, his first 12” and Hyperdub’s debut that still floors, eight years on from the release.
  12. The Bug, Flowdan, Killa P – Skeng [2007]
    Hyperdub’s London trio infiltrate a solid shaded bass line with speckled rippling beats and menacing lyrics to compose this resonant and throbbing tune which continues to pulsate in your ears after the five minute track is over.