Negatives

August 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

I can never be sure what it is gets to me most – whether it isn’t simply habituated memories of listening to late 90s/00s R&B records, with all of their effortless complexity, their skin-on-skin sinuousness & liquidity, alone, long after the lights are out. In spite of the seemingly clunky drum-programming, live renditions make clear Hype Williams can sew up a groove as easily as anyone; the tempo is pulled right down, though the shuffling rhythm-box causes micro-contortions throughout the body of song. The synths, that seem pinched from a Vangelis record (you know the one) & screwed, set the pace from within, form the sensual body of the record, its skin & metabolism; it’s only intensified by the xeroxed quality, the distance or transience of touch, as if memory were the only medium left capable of carrying expression (“as the ground is the medium in which dead cities lie interred”). Hype Williams’ songs are predicated on misrememberings: curiously, the refrain seems a transposition of the title of ‘Break4love’, a whispy, queasy, wordless piece of ambient on the One Nation LP (& from Raze’s minor 1989 house hit ‘Break 4 Love’ – & the memory of the breaths on the chorus of that song seems to remain in ‘Rise Up’), a corruption of analogue memory at the moment of its historic displacement by digital. The cliché exhortation of its title – though it lacks the requisite exclamation mark – hangs as a possibility that lies in the interstices, in the promise of dance, of proximity; it seems fairly obvious memory is the last medium, at least in a society where unalienated life has receded beyond touch; it seems fairly obvious that, at the moment real life threatens to leak through, it is at its most explosive. (“One inch of love is an inch of ashes” – Li Shang-Yin.) We are left with not so much a code, a series of symbols we would need to recognise, to relate to their signifieds, to unearth what their relation to each other entails, as an image, the imprint of a possibility that nothing can revoke.

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