“Is it any good?” a friend asked, after I’d declared Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland’s Black Is Beautiful my album of 2012.
What a question. Surely it’s the motivation for these annual countdowns, as we collectively ask: is it any good? Can you quantify its goodness relative to the rest of the year’s musical product? Is it an album you can’t stop playing? Was it the soundtrack to your summer?
“It’s…” I struggled for the word. “It’s not good, exactly. I mean, I don’t really want to listen to it that often.” A sceptical face looks back at me. Try again. “It’s just… it, isn’t it? It’s not just the album of 2012 – it is 2012.”
When I first heard Hype Williams (the duo’s previous and apparently interchangeable name) near the end of 2010, something about their woozy conveyor belt of crusty-edged samples, squeezed, stretched loops and cassette-like fidelity transported me back to being a car-sick child, listening to my dad’s worn-out tapes on the way to the airport at dawn.
Tracks like 'Blue Dream' and 'The Throning' triggered a queasiness that I’ve never quite shaken off – all that lethargic, narcotic, pitch-shifting infinite loopiness burrowed into my brain and made me listen over and over, unsure of whether I actually liked what I was hearing, but convinced it was worth enduring.