But then the kicker came four days later (again via Glass): "Dean nor Inga are in Hype Williams anymore, but the ting continues regardless with other cats." The statement makes 10 / 10 all the more confusing. And yet it was typical of an act with a history of sending fans down dead ends and dropping new records in obscure corners of the internet. This latest move could very well be just the next step in Blunt and Copeland's ongoing (and self-immolating) identity politics: to remove even their cultivated personas from the music, leaving it bare and faceless.
If there's anything definitive about 10 / 10, it's that it lacks a clear identity. Most noticeably, Copeland's arresting vocals are gone, as are the duo's swampy samples. Some core elements are recognizable as Hype Williams—namely, an aloof disposition and an opaque sense of emotion. All ten tracks are hip-hop instrumentals made from gauche synth tones, including harpsichord and chintzy string instruments. There's a knowing cheapness to the sound that, along with a faux-regal disposition, feels like a Blunt calling card. "Failure" and "Frowsy" both sound like they could score a palace scene in an old video game. Only the hissing trap drums in "Failure" hint at modernity.
The music bears little resemblance to the heatsick lo-fi jams of Hype Williams' back catalog. And unlike those older records, there isn't much in the way of intrigue or depth in these straightforward instrumentals. The album isn't without its nice moments, though: the wood-textured drums on "Deal Breaker," the trilling flutes on "Watch," the panicked, amateurish jumble of "Brewing." There's also "Revelations," the lengthy penultimate track that lumbers like a funeral march. Its stubborn slowness and patience-testing runtime smacks of Blunt numbers like "Forever," or Hype Williams' "Mitsubishi."
Hype Williams once again becoming a mysterious, online-only entity essentially resets the project to the days when no one knew who Blunt or Copeland were. The difference back then was that the music felt otherworldly and alluring; 10 / 10 is staid in comparison. Cryptic messages and absurdist humour were once part of the fun, but now those things feel like conceptual baggage saddled onto music that can't support it. There's merit to 10 / 10's blocky trudge and stately sense of melody, but that's just a fragment of the world of oddities that once made Hype Williams so transportive.