Few labels have done as much to reinforce bass music’s amorphous and far-reaching qualities as Hyperdub. And while credit is due to the leadership (and productions) of label head Kode9, it’s the company he keeps that truly establishes the label’s, well, anti-establishment quality—at least when it comes to the breadth of sounds it squeezes under an umbrella term like ‘bass music.’ Diversity and heavy low-end seem to be the label’s only guiding principles, and few embody both as well as Cooly G.
Lovingly referred to as the first lady of Hyperdub, Cooly G describes her sound as having a “deep house tribal dubstep vibe,” and with all that already on the table you might as well toss post-garage and funky into the mix as well. The description may feel crowded, but across her body of work it’s all there—from her 2009 debut to “Hold Me” off her latest EP. With her earliest singles, she immediately displayed a keen familiarity with the nooks and crannies of the music, from the haunting soca-funky-dancehall shuffle of “Narst” to the lightly broken-soul of “Love Dub.” Her 2012 LP Playin’ Me afforded her the opportunity to spread out even further, toggling between upfront dance floor fare, intimate burners, and a few places in between.
On her latest, “Hold Me” (as well as the two other cuts on her new EP), Cooly G’s crackling club assertiveness is back. As a swirling siren hisses out from the bowels of the track, a sturdy, funky-style break sets up the lingering vocal call-outs Cooly G supplies. Martyn fans will find themselves at home as “Hold Me” barrels on, picking up baby coos, distant jungle cries, and the warmth of synth tones as it progresses. It may not have the same rich nuance of the better moments from Playin’ Me, but that would only betray the purpose here. With this one, Cooly G clearly had a proper soundsystem setting in mind.