The ever elusive Hype Williams, consisting of Roy Blunt and Inga Copeland (now they have names!), exists on a plane that is the polar opposite of this week’s Rated Rookie, Games, though both projects tend to wobble and boom in the same general sphere of half-forgotten memories and sub-dub fantasy. The biggest difference between the two is that I couldn’t consciously recommend any scrap of Hype Williams looped skullduggery with a straight face as I could Games’ maximalist beats. Hype Williams deal in mind-games, inside jokes, and a vision of pop music as a reversible entity made from fractals of warped Casio melodies and chopped samples. Much of Find Out What Happens, their second full-length in under a year (with a third on the way), floats by without notice—not as background music or drug den soundtracking, but as a sticky sonic ectoplasm that demands sharp attention in order to parse exactly what’s going on. The lack of song titles and credits on most of the album further the duo’s mysterious operation, though increased coherence (as opposed to the jigsaw puzzle of past releases) on tracks that do have titles shows that there is a plan in motion: slowly but surely actual songs are being formed. That said the juxtaposition of auto-tuned crying babes against soundcards ripped from obsolete gaming consoles is not anywhere near a structure conceivable by the average listener. It’s the pieces that delight more than the whole.
Therefore, it’s best to simply dose on Hype Williams outre collage. “Rescue Dawn,” for instance, is an assemblage of ultra-neon keyboard flourishes that may or may not have come from a forgotten four-track production by The-Dream, while an innocent bystander reciting the names of his Pokemon hit list is pitch shifted down to an evil bellow. That combination is intoxicating enough to completely zone out on the record that follows. What appears as ephemeral segues of electronic squiggles and semi-industrious beats are manipulated, twisted, scratched and submerged, changing points of view without changing the channel. Call it magic eye-fi, as the more you stare into a track like “Blue Dream” the more Hype Williams’ slacker genius is revealed. Still, let’s not jump off the deep end as the British press has for Hype Williams just yet. Find Out What Happens is silly and frivolous, asking the listener to feel deeply for music that could very well be constructed overnight. I’ve used the term hypnagogia quite a bit in recent months, but that’s only because many of the artists that have passed across my desk term their wares as such. Following the murky guidelines that define the genre is a lazy, half-baked exercise. Hype Williams truly fit the bill, scraping up hypnagogic detritus and throwing it out into the smoke-filled cosmos of a late, late Saturday night. For proof, just flip on “The Throning,” a reinterpretation of Sade’s “The Sweetest Taboo” as played by the house band on a cruise ship headed towards an island full of discount stores. If that’s not hypnagogic, I’m not sure what is. Hype Williams, all their lack of effort and subversive pranks aside, are on the verge of something big. What that will be is hard to tell, especially given the idiosyncratic nature of their releases so far. When it arrives though, you’ll know it, as it’s likely to stone the underground for days.
Kevin J. Elliott