When I was first told that there was a new grime Hyperdub EP coming out, I got excited because despite Grime’s resurgence, Hyperdub as a label that pushed the genre so hard in its early days had been remarkably quiet in recent times on that front. In fact pair this with a vast array of terrible releases by mainstream and underground grime artists, and I had become desperate to listen to something grimey that did not have a boring 808 snare roll in it. Yet as with all Hyperdub releases, it is never a simple case of saying this is one thing or another; while apart from Fallen they seem to have a similar dark computer game vibe often used in grime, to then place it in that category would be like putting Tofu in the middle of the meat section at a supermarket.
In fact, as the title of the EP is ‘Flesh’, this may be a fitting comparison, for there is a complicated network of what influences this release, just as flesh itself is complicated (as shown in the artwork). One thing must be noted is that the influence Murlo is having on such releases is quite apparent. His blend of dancehall and grime is something that he has well and truly pioneered and it is interesting to see this style adopted in new environments. But if Murlo’s tunes are fun, euphoric and playful, Endgame has twisted these ideas into such a menacing form that it almost feels like this is the camera negative of a Murlo EP.
Felony riddim starts off the EP with a combination of clattering detuned metallic chimes and crashes and haunting atmospherics that give way to a flat powerful sub that takes the energy up a notch. Blunt stabs then start to cascade, while a sinister melody that would not feel out of place in one of the dark castle levels on Mario Kart plays out in the background. This powerful start makes way for the Sitting Ere’ Redux of Dizzee’s Boy in the Corner opener. Faster than the original, it smooths and detunes the synths; the lack of Dizzee’s familiar vocal creates an eerie absence that is somewhat filled by the lack of space that the speed-up creates. The result again feels like a Mario-Kart theme on the final-lap, eerie and rushed.
Fallen ft. Organ Tapes changes the vibe quite substantially, the sad and Auto-tuned beyond recognition vocal is placed over the top of a grimey instrumental base that draws cues from the intro to grime classic Ghetto Kyote. It creates an uneasy and interesting blend of genres that imagines a taste of what may be to come if American artists begin to start using grimier beats. It is extremely minimal but never feels boring or repetitive, something that is hard to come by. The last track of the EP, Toxic Riddim, goes back to the discordant computer game trope; its dancehall swagger is skewed into something almost hypnotic by its repeating melody. Like the opener Felony Riddim, these two tracks are arguably the most club-oriented but they still manage to maintain interest in the home listening environment. This makes it an apt end for ‘Flesh’, keeping the continuity throughout making it not just a collection of tunes like many releases.
Overall this is a very strong EP which blends genres in new and ominous ways and is a clever Hyperdub debut for Endgame, who hopefully has a lot more music to come.