DVA – Pretty Ugly 2×12″ LP / CD – Hyperdub

Genre names are often handy for contextualizing music, for placing it in a specific time (contemporary to the popularization of that genre title) or amongst its peers. DVA (sometimes Scratch DVA) seems to confound things a bit in this case. I’m guessing that he might be considered a part of the UK bass music scene, which is in turn kind of an umbrella for dubstep, future garage, post-dubstep, synth pop and so on, judging by his peers on Hyperdub and to a lesser degree on his own DVA Music imprint.

But aside from that cursory frame of reference, and aside from the fact that it’s been produced in 2012, this sounds to me like nearly archetypal broken beat, with heavy neo soul and R&B influences. With the layered acapella-work courtesy of Natalie Maddix in Eye Know, Zaki Ibrahim’s soulful and syncopated delivery on Fire Fly, and even the inclusion of Jazzanova, King Britt and Domu collaborator Vikter Duplaix, many moments on this album would feel right at home on Compost or Tru Thoughts. And that feeling carries strongly beyond the vocal work – this is all purple chords and organic, stop-and-go off-beat rhythm work that harken back to Archive and Sonar-Kollektiv’s heydays.

But hey, I don’t know what you might call it in 2012. It’s a high-quality full-length, grandly presented as is generally the fashion for Hyperdub.

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