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Kode9 And The Spaceape: Black Sun

B+

The Spaceape & Kode9

Album: Black Sun
Label: Hyperdub

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Glasgow-bred and London-based, Steve Goodman is a bass-music polymath: author of the self-explanatory Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, And The Ecology Of Fear, head of the stellar Hyperdub label, and as Kode9, one of dubstep’s leading DJs and producers. Black Sun, his second album with the glowering MC who calls himself The Spaceape, is five years in the making, though given everything else Goodman has been up to, the time lag seems reasonable enough. The biggest change from 2006’s Memories Of The Future—and from dubstep in 2006 generally—is from low to high: Goodman’s tracks concentrate more on the top end of the timbral scale rather than on sludgy, booming low end, more “hyper” than “dub.” This is especially apparent in the first half, thanks to the astral synths and jittery drums of “Black Smoke” and the unsettling chimes and “neon” synths of “Promises.” Still, Goodman imbues his tracks with plenty of dread, as on “Neon Red Sign,” where a wispy female vocal sample (“Yeah, uh”) and snaky hi-hats make things seem forlorn even before The Spaceape and guest vocalist Cha Cha start muttering discontentedly, while the title track—subtitled “Partial Eclipse Mix” to differentiate it from the more overtly anthem-like 2009 single version—is dusty, muted, and hypnotic. In spite of its sprawling palette, Black Sun is tight and compact, an album rather than simply a showcase.