Friday, 25 March 2011

RECOMMENDED: Hype Williams – One Nation [Hippos In Tanks]

After hearing the vaguely mysterious Berlin/London duo’s album, 'Find Out What Happens When People Stop Being Polite and Start Getting Reel,' from last year on I couldn’t quite see what all the fuss was about. Maybe it was the auto-tuned crying baby or Pokemon samples that put me off a bit, but all the blatant use of samples just didn’t work for me. The ideas were good but it never really sounded like it worked that well, plus plenty of other people (labels like Not Not Fun, Editions Mego, Olde English Spelling Bee) have been doing this hazy, spaced out, slow motion, genre clusterfuck thing well enough for Hype Williams not to hit home too much. So when their latest album One Nation arrived on the Hippos In Tanks imprint, the fact that i bonded to the content took me by surprise.

There are four tracks in particular that make One Nation. The first is the opener ‘Ital’ and it’s screwed, smeared atmospheres, pulsing warm bass lines and those dissonant synth sounds that morph in speed and texture like they’re being played on a broken tape deck. It’s a key sound to the album that appears again and again and puts it head and shoulders above previous material. The sample baiting has been addressed here too, with the duo making them less obvious; notably the only time a sample is really prominent is with with the spoken word stoner wisdom on the second standout, ‘Untitled;’ the contortion of the melodies is tantalizing and when the bass drops through them the muffled euphoria really comes.

The hyperactive hi-hat workouts on ‘Warlord’ offer a quicker, more serious, junglist edge - whether or not it’s a juke influence at work here remains to be seen but the tempo fits, as do the drum machine cow bell flourishes. ‘Mitsubishi’ feels like a warped take on Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works all slow, shape shifting house complete with child like lead lines. The production, or seeming lack of it, means that it doesn’t really punch like house music does, but it’s a hazy take on the sound but it works a treat amongst the static of the other tracks.

The brilliantly titled ‘Your Girl Smells Chung When She Wears Dior’ has a sunny shimmer, complete with hip-hop drums it plays out like an opening to a movie fucked purposely into new shapes. The hazy glow of ‘William, Shotgun Sprayer’ sounds like your favourite summer jingle being played on the last dregs of battery life through your walkman whilst while ‘Jah’ is the most intense noise exploration on the album, giving off a anxiety soaked train ride through a dystopian city sort of vibe. The album soon melts back into that sweet hazy bliss though when ‘Break4Love’ enters the equation and Hype Williams let its widescreen mellowness, sink in.

Primitive in its processes, One Nation is almost blissful, but completely blazed out; the most mature approach to date from an act whose ramshackle experiments in sound are on everyone’s – including Hyperdub boss Kode 9, who has confirmed they’ll be releasing an album on his label at some point in the future– lips right now. Much like the work of Actress, the production techniques may sound like you’re listening to the album through someone else’s iPod on a noisy tube train, but inherently, therein lies some of its out of body charm.

Words: James Balf // Out: Now

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