Hyperdub is a record label that has been at the forefront of electronic music since its birth in the mid 2000’s. With Kode 9 at the helm, Hyperdub has released music from the likes of Burial, Zomby, Fatima Al Qadiri and many more. One lady who has been there from the start and has been helping to push the envelope for the UK sound is Ikonika aka Sara Chen. With two studio albums already under her belt, as well as a wealth of singles, Ikonika has returned with her third offering ‘Distractions’.
The LP kicks off with Ikonika on fine form with the rattling bassline and shimmering synth stabs of ‘Girlfriend’. Lying somewhere between house, boogie and electro, ‘Girlfriend’ sets the mood for the genre-blending outlook of ‘Distractions’. As a London resident herself, this album is deeply influenced by the sights and sounds of London nightlife. ‘Manual Decapitation’ ventures into the deep, dark territory of hip-hop and trap, with its chiming bells and distinctive 808’s. Whilst ‘Not Actual Gameplay’ blurs the lines between laid-back house and futuristic boogie.
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One thing that shines throughout ‘Distractions’ 13 tracks is Chen’s love of 80’s synths. Although her music may be looking to the future, there are constant glimmers of the past that peer through the glossy, modern soundscapes, helped by the vintage 80’s instrumentation. It seems that Ikonika is most comfortable when she is channelling her love of R&B into her music. The icy production on ‘Lossy’ could easily be taken to new heights in the hands of a vocalist like Jhené Aiko or Rihanna. Her smooth style lends itself well for vocalists to let loose and gives them room for their voices to take centre stage. Her label mate Jessy Lanza lends her talents beautifully to the album’s atmospheric closer, whilst Andrea Galaxy hypes up the club-ready ‘Noblest’.
It’s obvious after listening to ‘Distractions’ that Ikonika has well and truly found her groove. She had a vision in mind when creating this album and she definitely fulfilled what she set out to do. The only thing that holds this album back is the lack of adventure and exploration that was found throughout her debut ‘Contact, Love, Want, Have’. When Chen was finding her feet as an artist her style was fearless and innovative. Now it feels like she has become a little too comfortable in her well-earned spot amongst London’s club-land elite.
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‘Distractions’ is out now via Hyperdub. The full track-listing for the album is as follows…
Noblest feat. Andrea Galaxy
Do I Watch It Like A Cricket Match?
Sacrifice feat. Jammz
Not Actual Gameplay
Hazefield feat. Sweyn Jupiter & Jessy Lanza