There's a undeniable thread that binds Hyperdub and its artists. Yet label boss, spokesman and mainline protagonist, Kode 9, has gone on the record numerous times to say that he can't really put his finger on exactly what it is. When he finds it, he says, he simply knows it. Upon release of Ikonika's debut 12-inch for the label, Please, what was immediately evident was her individuality. With that single Sara Abdel-Hamid merged the nonsense melodics of skweee with lashings of bass weight and some purposefully primitive, galloping drums, creating her own strain of the bastardised bass music virus.
Early Contact, Love, Want, Have highlight "Idiot" sets the tone for the full-length, contorting in typical Ikonika fashion with her cheap sounding synthesizers bumbling around a steady bass drum pulse. Unfurling into a homage to the percussive textures of UK funky as the snare drums patter, she propels the chorus section with slow thick bass tones and the kind of melodic interplay that belongs amongst a bustling arcade. But melody isn't the only concern: Ikonika has positioned herself at the forefront of the outsider dance, and rhythm is just as important. "They Are Losing the War" personifies Ikonika's approach to it perfectly. Pumping off a bold shoulder pad touting riff, she keeps her groove regimented to the 4x4 kick, splaying snares in erratic cyphers across gurgles and uplifting pads.
Singles "Fish," "Millie" and the opinion-splitting "Sahara Michael," the latter of which is an exercise in incredibly high pitched manipulation, booming sine waves and succulent chords chops, are all included before the halfway respite of "Continue?," a track that feels like Ikonika's suitably warped slow jam lullaby, layered with whistles, snatched vocals and the same kind of snare snap you find stamped deep into everything Joker produces. Her ability to drive dance floors is captured at the peak of the album in triplicate. "Psoriasis," "Video Delays" and "Look (Final Boss Stage)" all crank the drum patterns up to incredibly insistent; and while "Video..." takes a more eyes-down, introspective route with the cascading synths often completely bleaching the tone out of the drums in places, it, like the final chapter of the album, belongs on a big rig in a compact room.
The drum work on Contact is rough and intentionally so, ready to pummel you from a finely tweaked bassbin, but it's Ikonika's approach to melody and the way she layers her synthesizers that is undoubtedly the most exciting thing about this full-length. There are moments when the tones bleed a bit too much, sometimes eclipsing the rhythm and at times the rigid stylophone lead line approach feels more angular and precarious than it need be, but Contact, Love, Want, Have is a collection of work by someone who revels in these approaches, unworried by their potential genre compatibility. A superbly strong and relentlessly inventive debut album.
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Tracklist: Ikonika - Contact, Love, Want, Have 01. Ikonklast (Insert Coin)
06. They Are Losing the War
08. Sahara Michael
12. Video Delays
13. Look (Final Boss Stage)
14. Red Marker Pens (Good Ending)
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