Released on 6th November via Hyperdub
Scottish-born producer Kode9, real name Steve Goodman, steps up to the plate with his first solo album, Nothing, following the passing of long-time collaborator The Spaceape. The LP comes forward from Goodman’s own London-based label Hyperdub and “revolves around an evacuated, fully automated, luxury hotel known as The Nøtel, whose corporate logo features on the album’s cover.”
Nothing opens with ‘Zero Point Energy’, a glitchy, short, ambient piece full of menace and suspense that hits you with a wall of distortion. It sets the tone perfectly for the album that—save a few pieces—is teeming with angst and malice. The single ‘Respirator’, released ahead of the album, opens with a jackhammer of a kick drum imported straight from the Chicago Juke/Footwork scene before the song is filtered through Kubrick’s The Shining. The end result is something bludgeoning and truly sinister.
There’s little surprise to the extent of Footwork found on Nothing—Hyperdub had signed the late DJ Rashad several years previously and it’s clearly left a lasting impression on Goodman. Tracks like ‘Holo’ and ‘Casimir Effect’ offer some of the more bouncy and melodic moments on the album and are heavily reminiscent of 2011’s Room(s) by American artist Machinedrum.
Kode9 also reworks the classic dubstep anthem ‘9 Samurai’ into an epic and unrelenting beatdown of a track in ‘9 Drones’. It’s a track designed for a peak-time sound system in a low ceiling basement, and will be no doubt finishing off many DJ sets to come. Another peak-time moment found on the LP is ‘Zero Work’, arguably the only straight forward dubstep track to be found here. ‘Zero Work’ somehow strikes the balance of coming across as a first-wave style dubstep track while also sounding entirely fresh and progressive.
For all the praise this album deserves, it’s haunted by something lingering over the album, something missing—the brooding, syrup-like textures from The Spaceape, Stephen Gordon. The Spaceape passed away late last year following a long standing battle with a rare form of cancer, but can still be found on ‘Third Ear Transmission’, although unfortunately far too briefly. ‘Void’ was also written with The Spaceape in mind, spaces left where his vocals should have been.
Nothing is an astounding album that doesn’t really falter; it draws on several genres and styles, but Goodman’s filter and twist on every aspect is fresh and interesting. The album flows impeccably as a whole, but all the tracks are so concise and well executed that they work out of context—there’s no flab or filler to be found here.