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We’ve just been listening to a promo of the new Jessy Lanza album on Hyperdub in the office, and to be honest I was really enjoying it and it seemed a shame to turn it off halfway through but there’s some reviews that need writing. Thankfully though, one of those is this Ikonika album which is another artist that I’ve not heard of on Hyperdub so I’m not venturing too far away from it really.
In fact I hadn't noticed it when I wrote that first paragraph but after a very brief introductory number, ‘Beach Mode (Keep It Simple)’ gets Lanza herself in on the action with some crisp electronic beats, superfat bass drum, drifty synths and those lovely silky vocals wisping over the top, before ‘Mr Cake’ takes the beats somewhere more aggressive still with that hard kick still in place and some bright and percussive synth melodies leading the way. It’s total dancefloor fodder, I particularly enjoy it when she takes it down a notch with a cheeky softer variation on the synth line.
As it progresses I’m really enjoying how brazen and unpretentious this record is. Lately, not just on Hyperdub, everything has been about subtlety, with artists favouring smooth driftiness over crisp beatwork and clean, punchy melodies. What Ikonika is doing here, though, is taking some modern sounding beats and ‘80s synth worship and keeping it all very present, hard and energetic with some early ‘90s style synth bass (Yamaha DX7 maybe? I don’t know my synths as well as I should but it’s certainly a very familiar sound) and enough variety and vibrancy to keep you interested to the end. Don’t expect any Burial or Laurel Halo vibes here, we’re heading back to the old school of dance music that forces you to move whether you like it or not. Fun times.
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