Cooly G – ‘Wait ‘Til Night’ (Hyperdub)

Hyperdub have had an eventful year celebrating their 10th anniversary: Kode 9’s imprint won the title of ‘Best Small Label’ at the Independent Music Awards, they’ve released four celebratory compilations, hosted numerous one-off nights around Europe, and (as ever) have had a string of great releases from the likes of Fatima Al Qadiri, Ikonika, Flowdan and more. There’s been a sadder side too in the ‘eventful’ year, as Hyperdub and surrounding music community have been rocked by the passing of two key label affiliates – DJ Rashad and The Spaceape.

Cooly G has been regularly releasing on Hyperdub for the latter half of its active decade. Her debut, ‘Narst’ arrived in 2009 – a tribal Funky skank that positioned her as a leading female producer and DJ in the scene. Fast-forward five years and her sophomore album ‘Wait ‘Til Night’ is musically miles away. She’s arrived in a new musical era, no longer a faceless beat maker – starring in her own music video (see below) and creating more personal creations than ever before.

‘Wait ‘Til Night’ takes the energy of former club hits like ‘It’s Serious’ and channels it into something far more delicate, the power coming from sensual vocals rather than weighted percussion. It’s not the first time she’s moved towards a sparser, vocal led sound – ‘Come into My Room’ (feat. Aaron Carr) on her previous 2012 album ‘Playin’ Me’ being an example. ‘Wait ‘Til Night’, however, develops those ideas with a little more cohesion, each of them fitting into the self-prescribed album description as ‘lo-fi bedroom music’.

The title track begins with a squelching synth line which Cooly G’s vocals embellish. The effect is powerful – metrically grounded but highly sensual, Cooly G’s vocals hiss with sexuality that sways from side to side. ‘Like a Woman Should’ leaves the rhythmic foundations to a scatty drum machine, whilst reverb soaked vocals fill the space with confidence.

‘Your Sex’ starts with a distorted guitar riff, before those embracing vocals wrap around the tension with real presence. Cooly G’s fantasies are alive and personal, and couldn’t be more enticing. The RnB tendencies in the album are clear in ‘I Like’ – a catchy Pop moment only to be confused by more irregular drum splatters panned to a stretch. By ‘So Deep’, the beat making has developed a far more dominant weight – a Hip-Hop leaning, low slung head-nodder.

‘1st Time’ is one of the LP’s highlights. A toy box synth line sits alongside far more tasteful piano chords. As a Dub bassline walks below, Cooly G produces yet another infectious melody. When her vocals are only backed by drums and bass they seem exposed, but this vulnerability just adds conviction to the emotion. It’s not just about the vocals, though, and on tracks like ‘Freak You’ she demonstrates a willingness to let the melodies come from the instrumentation, setting a harmonious backdrop with her vocal accompaniment.

The strings set the scene in ‘Fuck With You’, with pizzicato riffs holding tempo together whilst sporadic hi-hats recur with illogical spontaneity. Finally, in ‘3 Of Us’ a quicker vocal delivery shows yet another side to Cooly G’s artistry. The last touch of aggression sits alone from the dreamier tracks prior, but sits comfortably amongst more subdued moments, making it a fine finish to the record.

‘Wait ‘Til Night’ finds Cooly G in new and interesting territory. Whilst she obviously still has the ability and productions to pack a punch on a system, ‘Wait ‘Til Night’ shows a more exposed version of the artist, laced in seductive honesty. Whilst the simplicity in the production is key to the record’s charm, at times it does seem a little forced or half-hearted. Many of the endings seemed lack lustre or forgotten about, which is a real shame. In a recent The Quietus interview she suggests that the writing process was rushed, and at times it does feel a little that way. That is, however, a small point in an otherwise confident LP that has some powerful moments within.

‘Wait ‘Til Night’ is out on Hyperdub October 20th. You can pre-order the vinyl here.

Jonathan Kambskarð-Bennett

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