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kode 9 & the spaceape - Black Sun
Five years on from their debut album, Kode 9 and The Space Ape present another riveting missive from the underground on 'Black Sun'. Since the release of 'Memories Of The Future' in 2006, Kode has adopted the mantle of UK Bass shamen, with a cardboard box for a headdress and the most forward/backward/sideways record case in the world, besides heading up a celebrated DJ Kicks session and A&Ring the impeccable Hyperdub label. All this has fed forward into 'Black Sun', twelve tracks of nextisms spanning myriad tempos and incorporating the influences of Chinese producer/MC, Cha Cha and an outstanding collaboration with Flying Lotus. OK, so you've probably gathered we're avowed Kode 9 fans but 'Black Sun' has just exceeded our already high expectations. From the doom-laced intro of 'Black Smoke' he's tweaking our endocrinal system with acrid Bubblin' synth licks, urgent lyrics and martial rhythms begging the question "fight or flight?". Stick around for 'Promises' and the contrast is acute, menace dissipated and replaced with lusciously artificial cybeR'n'Bass vibes followed into 'Love Is The Drug', adhering to a formula of dissonant synth cadence and dismantled House patterns spawned by his original 'Black Sun' 12" back in 2009, itself re-kinked here as the ace 'Black Sun (Partial Eclipse)'. However, the best tracks are those which take up Timbaland's rhythmic ideas (before he became a muscle bound pop goon). The synapse-triggering drums and paranoid tension of 'Neon Red Sign' is just exquisite, especially when Cha Cha and Space Ape find the same crease, while 'The Cure' uses similar patterns in a bleepier context, spliced with deft techno stabs for the dance, and then there's the junglist tuck-and-roll of 'Otherman', the hip-synched wriggle of 'Green Son' or the Grime-jacked force of 'Bullet Against Bone'. Sh*t, we've not even mentioned the brilliantly woozy harmonic tunings that really define this album, but this is getting long now and you've probably got better things to do. Take it on trust or find out for yourself, either way this album is just completely essential.