Dub/electronic/experimental act Hype Williams to play Glasgow's SWG3
The London duo marry a shadowy stage presence with engaging tunes
The List once saw Hype Williams perform entirely hidden behind a white bedsheet. It was like a Poundstretcher version of Pink Floyd’s The Wall but with an added fug of skunk. The duo, Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland, revel in this sort of batshit chicanery almost as much as they enjoy making their engrossing bricolage of morphine drip-pop, oddball dub and chopped and screwed R&B. This crawl space they inhabit – part avant tunesmiths, part art school pomposity – is probably all part of their grand plan to deconstruct the idea of being a recording artist in the digital age.
And it works, on some levels. In an era where the world’s top pop star parades around in a dress made of rashers, the limits of what you can achieve by deliberately confounding your audience seem to have been bypassed. Hype Williams instead purposefully cultivate a kind of ‘tactical non-engagement’ with their fans. Early on, the London duo were a shadowy, anonymous concept with an annoying name to Google, drip feeding releases at erratic intervals. When they eventually began to perform live, they did so in total darkness or completely obscured, reinforcing this barrier between them and their audience. It’s not a new concept but it gave Hype Williams that kind of haughty cool cachet they clearly desire.
It wouldn’t stand for much if their music wasn’t thoroughly engaging. Last year’s One Nation LP, their third, is a lo-fi dubby comedown, bristling with otherworldly ideas, at times maddeningly undercooked, but, nevertheless, a sonic curio of real redoubt. Their live show employs a similar tactics – a baffling aural blitzkrieg pockmarked with moments of rare intimacy and genre-melting oddness. And that’s just the music, beyond that is anyone’s guess.
SWG3, Glasgow, Fri 23 Mar.