One Nation One Nation


Hype Williams Hype WilliamsOne Nation

7.6 / 10

Hype Williams  One Nation HIPPOS IN TANKS

After the release of a single, limited to 50 (?!) copies that was sold out before it even reached the stores, Inga Copeland and Dean Blunty are now releasing their third record. It’s released on Hippos in Tanks, which is one of the most interesting American label of the moment, with a catalogue featuring Games (now rebaptised Ford & Lopatin) and Laurel Halo, who have a vision of hypnagogic pop with the word “pop” underlined and a special preference for synths, which makes it the perfect home for Hype Williams. The release of “One Nation” is limited as well: 1,000 numbered copies on white vinyl, showing, once again, their refusal to reach a bigger audience in spite of the ever growing media attention.

There are two things I like a lot about this record: first of all, it’s the twosome’s most solid album to date. And by “solid” I mean that none of the tracks seem to be semi-private jokes or experiments that could be interesting but have disappointing results. It’s the first time I don’t feel like selecting the most intriguing tracks and discarding the rest, something that has to do with the second, and more important, strong point of the record: its capacity to recreate a state of mind and maintain it over the whole length of the vinyl. Moving forward phlegmatically, Hype Williams have made an intimate, homely, elegant and melancholic record that absorbs equal parts of typical London sounds and British rave music and processes all of it via their immediately recognisable aesthetic of synths and rhythms. And all that, without renouncing lo-fi techniques, beyond a sound that appears more polished, simply because they’re more capable than ever to explore the sonority, tones and timbres of their synths, and combine them with consistently interesting rhythms.

From the start of “One Nation” it is clear that this duo are getting better and better at constructing atmospheres and transmitting emotions through their music. “Ital” begins, after a couple of seconds of background noise emphasising the analogue medium, with a dry rhythm over which they keep adding dark synths, acid basslines and echoing voices, all contributing to an atmosphere of drama wrapped, like the rest of the record, in a misty sensation. There are a couple of things on this track that hint at the contents of the rest of the album: in the first place, the absence of Inga’s voice, which is limited but gives some humanity to the sonic landscapes that sound more severe here. Secondly, the keyboards sound exploratory and melodic at the same time, leading one to think that if there are really going to be prequels and/or sequels of “Blade Runner”, Hype Williams are the perfect candidates to make the soundtrack. Another interesting element on this track is the acid bassline, which takes us back, like so many other sounds on “One Nation”, to the sounds of British electronica of the early nineties, and most of all to the Aphex Twin of “Selected Ambient Works” (present most of all on the almost eight minutes of “Mitsubishi”).

The rest of the tunes always have some way of distinguishing themselves, beyond the aforementioned aesthetic they have in common. On “William, Shotgun Sprayer” there is a Caribbean accent that breaks with the general melancholic tone, while “Homegrown” is interesting because of the way they play with the tempo and the timbre of the synths. “Warlord” is, rhythmically, the track closest to the British tradition of rave music, while “Jah” alters the rhythm once more to introduce jazz, and “Your Girl Smells Chung When She Wears Dior” is their vision of R&B (including a Cassie sample). The New Age reference becomes obvious with “Untitled” and “Untitled (And Your Batty’s So Round)”, through the inclusion of self-help tapes, although when you listen closely to what’s being said, it could be a parody, too. In fact, part of Hype Williams’s mystery lies in trying to clarify, a bit like with The Residents, the point at which they stop being serious. The band don’t seem to eager to explain themselves, and it’s probably for the better. Maybe they will do so on their next single or album. Or maybe they won’t. That’s also part of their charm.

Iván Conte

Hype Williams - Businessline

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