Seeing the Hyperdub logo on a new release is a sure fire guarantee of headphone ecstasy. Since 2004, the UK based label has been at the bleeding edge of electronic music, regularly releasing classic albums from Burial, Kode 9 and The Spaceape, DJ Rashad, Hype Williams and Laurel Halo. Its early day were strongly associated with menacing UK dubstep, but has grown to explore micro genres from Chicago footwork to Chinese inspired futurism. But all its artists share a raison d’eitre for bass heavy, deeply emotive music, which looks to the future while engaging the soul.
Joining this starry rooster is Italian producer Daniele Mana. Formerly active under the name Vaghe Stelle, he has just released the eight song EP Creature as Mana. The EP comes with one of the most enticing press releases I’ve read all year, ‘’On Creature, over eight tracks, [Mana] ingests Shostakovitch, Drexciya, Darkthrone, Frank Ocean, and Paul Lansky, and refashions them into an almost operatic record — a rich melodrama of dark tension and excitable in-your-face synth melodies.’’ The seemingly incongruous references to the underground techno of Drexciya and Norwegian black metal legends Darkthrone actually makes sense, because Mana makes nocturnal music which shines brightest in the dark.
The EP starts with the ghostly Fade, with distorted vocals overlaid over what sounds like pipe organs from a drowned cathedral. With a bang, it’s followed Crystalline, a deceptively minimal synthesiser driven piece which reveals hidden layers as it earworms into your brain. The beautiful Sei Nove could come straight from an Italian giallo, evoking mental images of protagonists being chased through gothic castles and dreadful secrets.
Yet again, Hyperdub have exposed an exciting new talent. Like many of their releases its best enjoyed at the witching hour, watching neon reflect off the rain soaked streets.