Hype Williams, Kelly Price W8 Gain Vol. II

Illustration by Marco Mazzoni


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Hype Williams’ Kelly Price W8 Gain Vol. II has been surrounded by a fair bit of speculation about its place on Hyperdub, a label best known for dubstep-and-beats variants. Whether it’s via their synth sounds, sub-bass, or shadowy persona, people have evidently decided that a link to the label’s aesthetic must be forged somehow. But truthfully, they don’t fit. Fitting in isn’t what they do, and it’s why they’ve appeared on such a variety of labels. Frankly, it’s a little surprising that they’re not self-releasing material by now, but perhaps their prolific work rate may not allow them to. At any rate, Kelly Price W8 Gain Vol. II is a Hype Williams record above all else, with their iconoclasm on full display.

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Opener “Rise Up” appeared earlier in the year in ridiculously limited quantities, and it’s heartening to see it get a wide release, as it’s one of their most lucid and devastating pop moments. The formula is relatively minimal: slow, shuffling tinpan drums and a huge, boisterously funky bass line (think RenĂ© & Angela or Quincy Jones) are smothered in the most groggy, aching pads this side of Detroit. Inga Copeland’s foggy vocal sits somewhere deep in the mix, pleading, “gimme a break for love/I’ll take it” on the hook with a detached kind of desperation. “Boss Man” inhabits a similar realm, mixing a skipping rhythm and cascading keys with more of those pads for its brief duration. “Farthing Wood Dub” is also fairly short and dubby but it’s brighter, mostly owing to a melodica solo which brings out a lot of the synths’ warmth. “Badmind” closes the EP with what’s becoming a Hype Williams trademark: providing background music for cryptic spoken-word monologues ripped from who-knows-where. The monologue moves from discussing auto-eroticism into James Laughlin’s “The Last Poem To Be Written,” while the duo play a circular, skeletal, Chinese-inspired arrangement underneath. It’s unendingly abstruse, and, like the rest of the EP, perfectly fits their homemade universe.

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