Available on: De Stijl LP

Most acts tarred with the hypnagogic brush are easy to decode and dismantle; in most cases they’re really just lo-fi indie doodlers who’ve been smart enough to re-brand themselves. Hype Williams? Well, they’re a tougher nut to crack.

This LP for De Stijl – their first non-limited release to date – will doubtless take the London-Berlin pair to a wider audience than ever before. It should also provide food for thought to those who’ve already dismissed them as some kind of hipster art prank.

Entitled Find Out What Happens When People Stop Being Polite, and Start Gettin Reel, it includes two tracks from their Do Roids And Kill E’rything 7″ from earlier this year. The most attention-grabbing of these is inevitably still ‘The Throning’, a deconstruction – or emaciation – of Sade’s ‘The Sweetest Taboo’ that still manages to sound buoyant and full of feeling. Unlike many of their hypnagogic brethren, Hype Williams are consummate minimalists, capable of working just three or four musical elements into dynamic, full-bodied arrangements. They’re also very, very dub-wise: the deliberate thinness of their synth sounds is offset by their ready deployment of FWD-grade subs; that grimy low-end lends real weight to ‘The Throning’ and the other Balearica-gone-bad ‘Roids cut, ‘Rescue Dawn 2’.

The combination of pitched-down spoken word, backwards-running tape and eerie radiophonic jangle on ‘Untitled (Andrea Lopez)’ and ‘Untitled 2′ might put you in mind of hauntologists Mordant Music and The Advisory Circle, but in Hype Williams’ hands these tropes sound grubbier, druggier, more libidinous. To begin with, ‘Untitled’ sounds like a Theo Parrish jam melting before your very ears, but a strange order soon asserts itself, analogue detritus cohering, against the odds, into a life-affirming, richly melodic overture. The duo’s screwed hip-hop influence comes to the fore on ‘Jesus To A Child 2′, but the sharp claps and needle-jumping bass distortion frame an exquisite looped keyboard melody that no 808-fetishing witch house chancer is capable of coming up with. Even at its most dotty and dissolute, Hype Williams’ music exudes pop charm.

Find Out What Happens is all the more powerful for the fact that it comes with so little context; Hype Williams’ deliberate obtuseness in their artwork, titles, videos interviews – from which it’s impossible to discern much more than the fact that they’re partial to smoking pot – gives space for the listener’s own imagination to inhabit the music and, in fact, feel closer to it.

Jon Ward



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