PLAYLIST: Kode9 Bangers

With Hyperdub boss Steve Goodman, aka Kode9, to receive the Innovator Award at this year's AIM Awards, we assembled a playlist of some of our favourite Kode9 musical moments from the last ten years

Photograph courtesy of Maximilian Montgomery

Steve Goodman, aka Kode9, the founder of the excellent and ever-evolving Hyperdub label, is set to be recognised with the Innovator Award at this year’s AIM Independent Music Awards. The ceremony is on September 2nd at The Brewery in Clerkenwell.

The Glasgow-born DJ and producer moved to London in 2000, setting up Hyperdub as a webzine a year later and a fully-fledged label in 2004, with its first release being his ‘Sine Of The Dub’ with The Spaceape in 2006. Ten years later – with a roster including Burial, Laurel Halo, Flowdan, Jessy Lanza, Terror Danjah, Cooly G, Fatima Al Qadiri and the late DJ Rashad among others – this year the label are marking a decade of operations with a series of compilations and a US and Canadian tour.

This week they’ve also announced the release of Hyperdub 10.3 on September 22nd. It’s an ambient-themed follow up to the first two compilations, which covered the label’s dancefloor dimension and vocal pop/R&B respectively. Click here to read our recent review of 10.2, and for more on the label’s history, you can read Melissa Bradshaw’s tQ essay on Hyperdub turning 5.

We’ve put together an annotated playlist of ten of our favourite of Goodman’s moments as Kode9 – listen via the YouTube embed below, and read about the tracks further down the page.

Kode9 & The Spaceape – ‘Sine Of The Dub’

This stark, gloriously reverberant soundworld was Hyperdub’s first ever release and Goodman’s first collaboration with regular vocalist Spaceape (credited at the time as Daddi Gee). ‘Sine Of The Dub’ is, as its title suggests, a cover of sorts of Prince’s ‘Sign O’ The Times’, and was recorded while the duo were living together in 2004, with Kode9 pitching Spaceape’s voice down to a sickly drawl. It remains a shocking listen a decade later, especially in light of the sociopolitical climate that’s coalesced in the wake of the 2008 financial crash. Here, deep in the cracks between blank, pulsing subs and fragmentary reggae chords, seethes a potent tarry brew of urban stress and dread, ominous portent of a future all too soon to arrive.

Kode9 – ‘9 Samurai’

This still lights up a dancefloor the occasional time you hear it dropped these days – Kode’s Kurosawa-sampling, low-lit banger, all martial drum rolls and that irresistibly dancable mid-bar kink that was then becoming a defining feature of dubstep.

Burial – ‘Distant Lights (Kode9 Remix)’

A quick-stepping refix of the keening opener to Burial’s debut, keeping its mood of an unseen London alight while subtly nudging it further towards the dancefloor. Having been in contact with Burial for several years, it was Hyperdub’s release of his self-titled album in 2006 (the same year as Kode9 and the Spaceape’s Memories Of The Future) that put the label on the map in the wider public eye, and helped lay the groundwork for their increasing emphasis on working with unique, idiosyncratic artists from across styles.

Kode9 & The Spaceape – Dubstep Allstars Vol. 3

One of the best in Tempa’s Dubstep Allstars series – whose volumes 1 to 6 all remain essential listening – simply for its commitment to creating an entirely unique world to exist within. Spaceape’s cryptic meditations and metaphors are a guiding presence through a mix landscape that evolves seamlessly from heads-down claustrophobia, to grimey bangers, to flickering IDM-tinged romance, to hidden classics (D1’s ‘Bamboo’ flutes ‘n’ rolls with the best of them).

The Bug – ‘Skeng (Kode9 Remix)’

The original ‘Skeng’ is a true Quietus anthem, one of our most played office tracks ever, and one of the best (and deliciously, darkly humorous) songs of last decade. First emerging on Hyperdub ahead of its release on The Bug’s London Zoo album, it’s also possessed of two killer remixes: Autechre’s steel-plated crusher from 2010, and Kode9’s deliriously heavy and brutally funky twist-up from that initial single release.

Kode9 & Flying Lotus – Rinse FM, November 2007

The first time I, and I’d imagine many other listeners, first properly encountered many of the sickened, psychedelic hip hop sounds emerging from LA’s Low End Theory axis was this back-to-back 2007 session on Rinse FM between Goodman and Flying Lotus. Extra points for being a crucial early gathering together of the many rhythmically divergent, synth-soaked mutations being grouped together under the term "wonky". It’s still available to download from, click here to grab it.

Kode9 vs. Badawi – ‘Den Of Drumz’

A personal favourite, from around the time dubstep was infolding into techno (and vice versa) in a productive and highly fertile way, this spring-loaded collaboration with Ras Mesinai feels like getting lost in the Mojave desert at twilight with only a knackered handheld radio and a pocket knife for company.

Kode9 – ‘You Don’t Wash (Actress Remix)’

With 2009’s ‘Black Sun’ single and then ‘You Don’t Wash’ the following year, Goodman assimilated the syncopated bounce of UK funky into his sound, then scorched it with a blast of solar radiation, triggering catastrophic cell meltdown and sensory distortion. Actress, who had been involved in some of Goodman’s earliest Hyperdub nights, remixed the latter into a grotesque carnival-of-the-damned carousel ride, with struck percussion and marimba wheeling around you in a merry, sinister dance.

Kode9 & The Spaceape – ‘Bullet Against Bone’

Percussive artillery fire on the highlight of the duo’s second album Black Sun; funky sped up to a brutalising clip, snares like bomb shrapnel, Spaceape on never-more-predatory vocal form.

Kode9 – Tribute To DJ Rashad: Boiler Room Mix

"The sad death of DJ Rashad this year, at the age of only 34, was a shock not only for the Chicago footwork community that he was core to, but also to the wider dance music world. Following a pair of fantastic singles and last year’s Double Cup album on Hyperdub – and with Goodman’s own music drawing increasing rhythmic cues from footwork and US rap – Rashad was also an increasingly central figure to the label itself, something emphasised by the inclusion of tracks by many members of his Teklife collective on this year’s first tenth anniversary Hyperdub compilation. A few days after his passing Kode9 headlined Boiler Room’s streamed tribute session; a showcase of Rashad’s wild, playful, intense and moving music.

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