Its been interesting to watch the journey Hyperdub have been on since its founding. The project began as a webzine in 2000, before graduating to label status in 2004, largely releasing dubstep and other hybrid UK dance experimentations.
Later, founder Steve Goodman aka Kode 9 began to showcase an array of footwork, hip-hop and R&B, releasing works from the likes of DJ Rashad, Jesse Lanza and Babyfather. One of the biggest signifiers of this changing interest for me was seeing Okzharp’s collaboration with Manthe Ribane, ‘Dear Ribane’ played during the opening of Beyoncé’s world tour.
Klein, their latest signing, is another artist who defies categorisation to a large extent. I first heard of her after reading about her receipt of an Oram Award, an scheme managed by the PRS Foundation and The New BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Yet despite gaining recognition from this more academic side to electronic music, Klein’s work is packed with originality and depth.
Tommy melts influences from gospel, R&B and pop music into a bugged-out and disorienting haze. There’s plenty to be challenged by here, tangled webs of syrupy vocals and cloying, detuned organs work together to create a sound which feels both rich in emotion, yet also strangely synthetic. The sullen piano motifs and longing vocals of ‘Cry Theme’ make a good example, gradually building to a stuttered climax, droning glitch-tones buzzing relentlessly.
The whole album is soaked in cloudy reverbs, soothing the transitions between Klein’s mercilessly spliced sample material. ‘Everlong’ and ‘B2k’ are two of my favourites on the EP, and a good example of this. Cranky, data-moshed percussion and pitch-tweaked vocals are processed to oblivion, leaving your head spinning.
The release as a whole is a challenging listen, and one which takes time to adjust to. What’s certain is that Klein has created a space for herself which feels completely new and uncharted - an impressive feat in a time where fresh concepts are few and far between. I look forward to seeing where this approach takes her in the future.