by / April 6th, 2011 /

Kode9 & The Spaceape – Black Sun

 3/5 Rating

(Hyperdub)

Only a few years ago with their Memories of The Future Kode9 and The Spaceape had a more optimistic outlook of the present, or at least they muffled their pessimism with a cinematic blanket of sweeping strings and comforting orchestration. Now that we’re here, there’s no such cocoon on the MC’ed doomstep of Black Sun. You might get a threadbare-sheet and pointed towards a couch but mostly you’ll be pacing the floorboards or wandering in the darkness. Black Sun is not an album that induces sleep, so we’re roughing it.

Sticking less rigidly to their previous dubstep format, Kode9’s production is stripped back and loose; taking in nuances of ’90s electronica and the bleaker atmospherics of trip-hop at its peak. Spaceape’s paranoid MCing is thematically clichéd; doomsday predictions and claustrophobic disquiet – lending a dated feel to proceedings when in truth, these anxieties may be more appropriate now than ever before. “There’s a war going on”. Sure, we’ve heard it many times before but put simply to bare rhythmics on ‘Red Neon Sign’ it carries a gloomy resonance and ‘The Cure’ is a minimal beatcentric piece that confronts insecurities and karma head on.

For what is essentially a home-listening record, the title track ‘Black Sun’ and ‘Love Is The Drug’ have dark dance floor orientations; the suffocating disco-club vocal of the latter warning that “this love is going to tighten round your neck” – sung by Cha Cha, a singer from Shanghai who features on four tracks.

‘Otherman’ followed immediately by ‘Green Sun’ shows the breadth of the collection; lulling synth drones around lop-sided beats are interrupted by shuffling acid-house leanings. And Flying Lotus does feature on ‘Kryon’ but it is really just a crackling three minute outro with little or no contribution to the album, but still, it’s a nice leaving gift.

Questioning on top of 8-bit washes on ‘Am I’, Spaceape ponders “Am I an elevator moving in a lateral direction?” and the answer for this pair is “yes”, but in doing so they are covering new ground. They may not be pushing forward but by employing old-school stylistics to their second LP Kode9 and The Spaceape have skewed dubstep yet again, widening the boundaries and presenting a record of oblique angles and varying patterns.

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