Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland // Black Is Beautiful // April 16 // Hyperdub
Sometimes you know that you can just look at someone’s name and not even bother with their music. Among the worst names you can get for your group are those who reference living people. Even worse, you can switch the first letters together and look like a complete and utter plank (Com Truise, thank you for giving me a chance to diss you). Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland might sound like new names to some but it’s the same duo that was previously known as Hype Williams. Not to worry though. Their new Hyperdub LP Black Is Beautiful is still filled with eccentricities.
Black Is Beautiful isn’t even that different to what they used to make under the Hype Williams moniker. Sure, Black Is Beautiful is a bit less abstract haze hop and much more abstract haze synthpop, but the ethos are still the same. Black Is Beautiful is sketchy to the point where complaining about it makes no sense. There’s 15 tracks on here and apart from the first one titled Venice Dreamway, the rest are named after the order they appear on the LP, you know, 2nd track is called 2, 6th track is called 6, 11th track is called 11 and so on. It makes a lot of sense when you considered just what kind of stuff is present on this record. Black Is Beautiful is a package of 15 different ideas that fit somewhere in the hazy lo-fi pop regions but are completely removed from each other most of the time.
Now does all of this sound like early Ariel Pink albums to you? Does it? Because the second track on here just happens to be a cover of Baby, originally by Donnie & Joe Emerson, the same track that appears as the closer on the new Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti LP. Black Is Beautiful came out months before Mature Themes so there is no point to accuse Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland of plagiarism but let that stand as a testament and proof that these guys work on the same brainwave level as Pink. Black Is Beautiful reminds me of the early Pink records, there’s just so much to absorb and even the weird moments, you can’t just dismiss them. Tracks 9 and 10 in particular are the most pointless moments on here as they exercise in some sort of industrial lo-fi repetition that, let’s face it, doesn’t suit this duo. It’s tracks like 5 and 11 that make Black And Beautiful into an interesting LP that feels more like a odds and sods compilation than most of those released this year. It’s the moments when Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland immerse themselves in whatever mild pop songwriting skills they have that make Black Is Beautiful more than sound of their own noise. There’s a promise a good LP in the future but on Black Is Beautiful they are merely throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks and leaving before they can see the results.
While it is a label that focuses on dance music, this year has been really spectacular for Hyperdub. Some big releases and critical acclaim follow the fact that most of their releases have been incredibly well oiled and balanced. Black Is Beautiful is the black sheep of the family then. Make no mistake, apart from 9 and 10, Black Is Beautiful is an entertaining listen but ultimately one that you’ll have to fight to like due to its scattershot nature and disregard for anything cohesive.