Available on: Hyperdub 12″

Hyperdub: dubstep label, grime label, funky label, house label, “electronica” label, they all kind of fit. (Maybe those at the top of it wouldn’t appreciate that first category). The Kode9-helmed label has found its own place in each of those universes, and in the past two years a curious brand of grime, along with UK funky, has come to define the largest part of the imprint’s output. ‘West Coast’ is London grime producer D.O.K.’s first solo release for Hyperdub, but it feels like a long time coming. The Terror Danjah protege-of-sorts has already seen release on the label in the form of collaborations with that legendary grime veteran, but after witnessing the awesome power of ‘Chemical Planet’ on Butterz, a proper D.O.K. release seems well overdue.

D.O.K.’s style could easily be filed alongside Danjah’s, even down to that distinct audio stamp that peppers his productions (his being a terse “ha!” exclamation as opposed to Terror’s lovable gremlin). However, D.O.K. is more likely to abuse synths and fill up the midrange than Terror’s brittle and slamming productions, especially on a track like ‘Chemical Planet’, a delirious rush of Sega sugar. ‘West Coast’ – with Terror Danjah returning the collaboration favour – is not quite so bombastic, instead flirting with the kind of soulful and funky, yet squeaky, hip-hop hinted at in the track’s title. The track’s reedy synths and jerky progression are addictive and earwormy, going through tiny variations, snags and glitches as the track cycles methodically over and over and over again. Without a vocal it’s the kind of thing that’s a little tedious to sit through in its entirety, but dynamite in the mix, its G-funk-baiting melody the perfect fodder to cut through the tireless aggression of bone dry snares and bass rattles. There’s a VIP mix thrown in for good measure, exaggerating those stutters, beefing up the synths and giving the whole track a woozy, lean-drenched chopped ‘n’ screwed feel, and a bit of dynamism and momentum that the original’s stilted thrash lacks.

The flipside is, predictably, ‘East Coast’, and even more predictably is much harder and leaves less to grasp onto than its counterpart. It’s much more the “traditional” grime tune, driving hard and balling up that breezy synth from the A-side into bursts of prickly energy. The track dive-bombs into LFO-drenched sections of paranoia completed with trilling synths before coming up for air and back again, carrying the feel of a nightmarish inversion of ‘Chemical Planet”s undeniable glee. It’s not the easiest place to start with D.O.K. nor is it his best work of the past year, but ‘West Coast’ makes for a solid addition to the Hyperdub canon, keeping it grimy even as if it moves far enough away from roots to justify a release on the esteemed label.

Andrew Ryce



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