Hyperdub, the name of Kode9-s label, has increasingly become the most suitable word to describe the music he makes as a producer and plays as a DJ. His music is hyper-colour, hyperactive, hyper-real. Kode9 aka Steve Goodman has been at the forefront of the dubstep explosion pretty much since the beginning and his output, while small, has been significant in challenging other producers to think outside the box and ignore musical stereotypes. On this compilation Kode 9 takes the listener on a musical journey, exploring grime, UK funky, african house as well as various mutations of the dubstep virus.
The first half of the mix is dominated by dramatic chord staps, energetic percussion and tribal riddims as Kode9 connects both musical and ethnic dots. South African kwaito sits beside hip-hop and dub as Goodman shows how much these genres have in common. In fact, the most impressive thing about this album is the sheer scope – in just over 60 minutes Kode 9 plays 31 songs which capture more genres than I know. However Kode9 avoids making the album sound cluttered with careful mixing and keeping each song length consistent. Songs melt in and out in a way that sounds effortless and the overall effect is a strangely coherent kaleidoscope of sound.
Goodman includes many of his label mates including Cooly G, Ikonika and Zomby, as well an exclusive track from himself. One of the nicest things about this mix is how he uses filters and other effects, it’s a welcome reminder that there as actually a DJ playing these songs.
In some ways, this mix is reminiscent of Flying Lotus’s recent album Cosmogramma – both artists knit together a psychedelic musical tapestry. The final third of the mix is almost like a dreamscape with hallucinogenic tracks like the brilliant ‘2 Much Chat’ by Digital Mystikz and Zomby’s ‘Godzilla’ melting into dark oppressive bass. Like on Cosmogramma, sounds enter and exit mysteriously leaving the listener nodding their head as if in a trance. We are shook out of this state by Addison Groove’s ‘Footcrab‘, a track that really should be an international club hit and Kode9 closes the album abruptly with Flo Dan rapping over a Bug track.
There is no real standout tracks on this compilation. Kode9’s performance as a DJ and his ability to choose great songs are the highlights. For those who haven’t witnessed a Kode9 set this mix offers an opportunity to experience his eclectic taste and for those who have this is a nice reminder of how good a selector he is.