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Various Artists Hyperdub 10.3

It’s notoriously difficult thinking up an intro for any album review, but on this occasion one’s thankfully landed in my lap more or less fully formed. Several years ago I was pootling about online in the early hours of the morning when I landed on the comments section to Burial’s ‘Night Bus’. Some well-minded chap had posted the eye-opening assertion that if you loaded up ‘Night Bus’ in one tab and ‘In McDonalds’ in another, magical things would happen. It worked. Granted, it’s just a case of playing two layers of ambient, beat-less wash over each other, so avoiding ear-wrenching clashes is fairly inevitable, but the results were nonetheless doubly gorgeous.

Why am I boring you and frittering away Now Then’s column inches with a late night stoner tale? Well, man, both of the aforementioned tracks feature on Hyperdub 10.3, the ambient, atmospheric third instalment of the London label’s tenth anniversary compilation series. As with the two Burial cuts, the focus across the assembled material - both vintage and previously unheard - is on the spaces that Kode9’s imprint inhabits away from the dancefloor and, as with the previous two compilations, succeeds with impeccable precision in tying together all the different strands that have made Hyperdub such an enduring and vital label.

While the typically sombre, often beat-spurning likes of Dean Blunt, Inga Copeland and Laurel Halo are all present, the ambient-leaning offerings from the usually more frenzied DJ Earl, DVA and Ikonika reflect an underlying fluidity and versatility to Hyperdub’s overall character. Such broad-minded invention has served them well over the past ten years and can’t fail but to hold them in good stead for countless more.

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