Kode9: Nothing (4 stars)

Strong and sonically memorable debut solo album

Kode9: Nothing

As the man behind the label responsible for prominent releases by the likes of Burial, DJ Rashad, Ikonika and many others, Steve Goodman has been at the forefront of dubstep and the wider electronic genre for over a decade. Though hard to believe, Nothing is the Hyperdub chief’s debut solo album as Kode9, following two previous albums with vocalist-poet The Spaceape. But after collaborating on, remixing and releasing the music of countless other musicians, Nothing proves to be an exceptional portfolio of Goodman’s deep and profound knowledge of grime, early dubstep, 2-step and beyond.

Opening with the foreboding drone of ‘Zero Point Energy’, the album maintains a menacing theme through the contrasting ostinato-like melody and turbulent dissonance of ‘Notel’. ‘Void’ emphasises a kind of desolation that engulfs the album overall, perhaps as a result of the vacant spaces in the track, initially intended for The Spaceape. His presence is felt elsewhere, like the ominous ‘Third Ear Transmission’, on which the vocalist features and final track ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’, where the atmospheric nothingness fades to a lingering nine-minute haze.

‘Holo’ is a definite highlight with its tranquil vocals floating above footwork-inspired rhythms, similarly heard on ‘Vacuum Packed’. Meanwhile, the spirited fanfare of ‘9 Drones’, a version of the classic ‘Nine Samurai’ from Memories of the Future, begins the fitting conclusion to an emotionally intricate journey. The album is ultimately a requiem to a friend and frequent collaborator, with a feeling of emptiness and melancholy running through from start to finish.

That’s not to say it lacks character, rather with Nothing Goodman takes an extensive landscape of interesting and disparate sounds and succeeds in creating a skilful mesh of sub-bass, footwork patterns and hypnotic looped instrumentals. Its subject matter might be ‘nothing’, but the album certainly demonstrates something strong and sonically memorable.

Nothing is released on Nov 6 on Hyperdub.


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