My grip on Black is Beautiful, the new album by Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland on Hyperdub, is tenuous to say the very least. I know I have heard it all the way through a number of times, but the bigger picture evades me. I’ll turn on my stereo and forget what the hell I’m listening to, because no two songs are even remotely alike; I flip it on while washing dishes and I find myself in another room twenty minutes later having abandoned the listen, but its odd moments still echo distinctly in my skull. The first song, the only one with a name, starts with a damaged and looped sample of what sounds like a hard exhale of something laced with salvia, and then it’s down the rabbit hole.
What ensues is magic: there are tantric chants, samples of bizarre interviews about sexual politics, drum machines hammering out hypnotic rhythms and cheap keyboards noodling visceral melodies. These two elusive multi-format artists, typically known as Hype Williams (perhaps in an effort to be confused with the famous music video director), are responsible for some of the most magnetic moments in recent music that I can think of; a haunting cover of a Donnie and Joe Emerson tune, the tender and soulful “Narcissist,” many particular occasions on Beautiful when Copeland proves her extreme vocal finesse and some of the most compelling experiments in the long, trailblazing history of the label that they now call home.