Kode 9 - Black Sun (Out Monday)
Yes, though the hype is absolutely through the roof over Kode 9 and the Spaceape's second album (over four years since Memories of the Future), it is actually as good as you want it to be. 'Memories was a barren, scorched record, full of empty, echoing soundscapes and sparse percussive frameworks; a low-end depiction of the wasteland after the apocalypse, where Spaceape's almost inhuman poetry growled across the emptiness. Jesus, Sine of the Dub consisted of a low-end rumble and an uncomfortably loud chord, with a few cymbals trapped in the high-end. Black Sun, despite the apocalyptic title, and Spaceape's ever-doomy delivery is a much warmer, richer record, reflecting the evolution of UK bass music in the intervening years, with tracks like the R'n'B inflected Love is the Drug and the reworked Black Sun (Partial Eclipse Version) brimming with richer percussion and evolving synth work. It's still dark and upsetting, with Spaceape spitting viciously about "the prophets taking liberties and re-arranging the words we say" and "a god who has underachieved", and Goodman crafting Bullets against Bone from the sounds of riots and protest. However, this feels like the place after the wasteland, a post-apocalypic, dystopian society - everything feels recognisable, but deformed and reworked according to a stranger set of values than we can comprehend.
It's a massively accomplished record, and far more accessible than Memories, without ever-losing the dread dub feel that the pair have made their own. Spaceape in particular has become a far more potent MC, combing the violent growling we last saw on Fuckaz with R'n'B aspects, hints of Roger Robinson's abstract rasta poetry, and even delivering a few bars in straight-up rapping. It's as broad and compelling a mix as we've come to expect from both Hyperdub and Kode & the Spaceape, and frankly is a good contender for album of the year already.
Out on monday.