Photo and Feature Photo: peletiah

This weekend I happened to be in London for the 5th anniversary of the London-based Hyperdub label.

Pioneers of the distinctly British genre Dubstep (the bass-heavy successor to the underground UK urban continuum that includes jungle, grime and garage), Hyperdub has been gorgeously unpredictable in delivering fresh, colorful takes on this most cutting edge of urban sounds, helping re-define it and bolster its reputation as a serious, anti-fad music form.

Famed for unearthing groundbreaking records by artists such as The Spaceape, Burial, Darkstar and King Midas Sound, the label is run by Kode9, aka Steve Goodman, a DJ / producer with a Ph.D in philosophy and a deep interest in (and knowledge of) sonic culture.

In fact, Goodman has gone so far as to write a book called “Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear“ (click the link for free sample chapters), which “maps a (dis)continuum of vibrational force, encompassing police and military research into acoustic means of crowd control, the corporate deployment of sonic branding, and the intense sonic encounters of sound art and music culture.”

Photo of Nocturne 4/Kode 9 & Spaceape: basic_sounds

Hyperdub parties are fairly rare and Saturday’s, which took place at Elephant & Castle’s Corsica Studios, was road-blocked from the outset. There were blistering live sets from Kode 9 and MC Spaceape (whose radical re-versioning of Prince’s Sign O’ The Times classic was the inaugural Hyperdub release), King Midas Sound (a collaboration between poet/singer Roger Robinson and The Bug) and Darkstar, plus DJ sets from Ikonika, Cooly G, LD, LV and Videeo.

The venue shook all night long with the constant barrage of deep, dirty bass and sci-fi style futurebeats, running the gamut from the wonky, glitch-filled hip hop of Michigan-born Samiyam, an iridescent set from Cooly G and some bad-bwoy grimy throwdowns from Kode9. The crowd were mixed, dedicated and friendly – a perfect night and one of the best parties I’ve attended the whole year in terms of music and vibe. It’s Monday and I swear my legs are still vibrating.

Living in techno-saturated Berlin, it’s easy to forget how edgy London can be. Hyperdub’s extravaganza was a stellar reminder that the capital still holds the title for the most forward-thinking and diverse clubland in the world. For an insight into the Hyperdub sound, check out their recent 5th anniversary compilation “Hyperdub 5,” Burial’s “Untrue” (declared one of the albums of the decade by many music sites), or King Midas Sound’s forthcoming “Waiting For You.”

You can go directly to a FACT Magazine podcast from King Midas Sound that includes a bunch of sweet reggae / lovers rock as well as tracks from Burial, Larry Heard, My Bloody Valentine, Sade and Scritti Politti. And finally, for your reading pleasure, here’s a brand new interview with the man behind the whole sonic revolution, Steve Goodman.

Go on – get dubbed up.