- Of all the compilations so far in Hyperdub's ongoing tenth birthday series, 10.3 goes the furthest afield. This time, the focus is on the label's history (or lack thereof) with ambient music. Looking through their back catalogue, you'd be hard-pressed to find much you could easily categorize as ambient. As such, 10.3 contains a healthy dose of tailor-made material that shows off a new side of the Hyperdub roster, and adds a few new names, too. At the same time, it also includes a few ambient interludes that feel pointless outside the context of their original albums. It's a bumpy ride, but, like most Hyperdub releases, it's rarely boring.
The collection begins with Burial's "In McDonalds," an incredibly affecting two minutes of music from his 2007 masterpiece Untrue. As an opening track, it's a blessing and a curse: there aren't many more emotionally piercing interludes than that. Many of the contributions of a similar length feel half-finished by comparison. Walton's wispy "City Of God" certainly doesn't stand up, nor does King Midas Sound's "Blue" or DJ Earl's "Hexgonic Sound"—all three are so inconsequential it's hard to figure out why they warranted inclusion. And as brief as they are, they break up the flow between meatier tracks, like Lee Gamble's dubstep hallucination "DSM," the hulking cloud of mist that is The Bug's "Siren," Ikonika's lilting "Time / Speed" and Fhloston Paradigm's "Liloo's Seduction," a 10-minute epic that sits at the centre of the compilation like its prized possession.
Hearing "Liloo's Seduction" as the backbone of an ambient compilation, rather than the sprawling B-side of the Chasing Rainbows EP, puts it in a whole new light, which is the best thing about Hyperdub 10.3. Though some tunes flounder outside their original context, others flourish, such as Darkstar's "Ostkreuz," which feels lonelier and more gothic than ever. Other artists strip down their usual sound, finding a sensual sort of elegance in the naked skeletons left behind. The bright tones of Kode 9's "Pink Sham Pain Down The Drain" are elegiac, while Fatima Al Quadric's "Shanxi" might outdo anything on her Asiatisch album in terms of exotic allure.
10.3's most obvious success is the way it shows us a new way to look at Hyperdub. And even if it isn't always successful, it's surprising, and a lot braver than your average label compilation, which is just the standard we've come to expect from Hyperdub. And in that sense, at least, 10.3 lives up to the label's strange and unpredictable ethos.
01. Burial - In McDonalds
02. Dean Blunt - Urban
03. Kode9 & The Spaceape - Hole In The Sky
04. Inga Copeland - I Am Your Ambient Wife
05. Kode9 - Pink Sham Pain Down The Drain
06. Laurel Halo - Melt
07. The Bug - Siren
08. Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland - Untitled 13
09. Walton - City of God
10. King Midas Sound - Blue
11. Lee Gamble - DSM
12. Cooly G - Mind
13. Burial - Night Bus
14. Ikonika - Completion V.3
15. Darkstar - Ostkreuz
16. Fhloston Paradigm - Liloos Seduction
17. Ikonika - Time/Speed
18. DJ Earl - Hexgonic Sound
19. Cooly G - Trying
20. Laurel Halo - Wow
21. Fatima Al Qadiri - Shanxi
22. DVA - Reach the Devil
23. Jeremy Greenspan - Gage feat. Borys