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Michael McKinney understands the cultural importance of Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci.”
Steve Goodman is reimagining the future, but what else is new? As Kode9, he has spent the past few decades casting electronic music into new territories. In the early 1990s, he started going to jungle events in Edinburgh, falling deep into the well of rave-ready electronics; since then, he has devoted his career to reshaping and pushing against the contours of club music. In 2004, he founded Hyperdub, which has become one of electronic music’s most vital hubs; it is just as restless as its founder, with a roster of artists that consistently twist genres and forms into alien shapes. (Among many other records and names, Hyperdub is responsible for introducing the world to Burial’s Untrue, DJ Rashad’s Double Cup, Laurel Halo’s Dust, and Babyfather’s BBF.)
Goodman’s debut record was presciently titled. Memories of the Future, in retrospect, encapsulates many themes in his career: a vision of the future as a collage of what has come before, mangled and reshuffled in the process; a thoroughly uncompromising sonic vision that balances moody experimentalism and bass-heavy sound design; and a heady approach to synthesizers that ensures every beat is laced with thematic intent. That record, and his next, Black Sun, were both recorded alongside Stephen Gordon, a.k.a. The Spaceape, a dub-poetry wizard who synthesized science fiction, George Clinton, and spoken word into something downright apocalyptic. In 2012, Goodman published Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear, a book about the use of sound for purposes of fear, dread, and disorientation. Taken as a whole, Goodman’s career lays out a clear modus operandi: push sound into new territories, comfort and tradition be damned.
So: where does that leave him now? In 2022, Goodman released Escapology, his first album in five years, as well as Astro-Darien, a long-form audio essay that acts as a companion of sorts. Astro-Darien is an audio essay about an imagined video game, and Escapology is something of a soundtrack: think Grand Theft Auto set in 2093 and you’re on the right track. Sonically, these records act as a neat continuation of Goodman’s broadening interests. They’re sound-collagery for the club: tilt your head just right, and you’ll hear shards of amapiano, footwork, jungle, techno, and PlayStation 9 sound-card start-up sounds.
In the midst of his US tour, we got a chance to catch up with Kode9 via email, digging into the texts that inspired his recent work, his introductions to dance music, his relationship with futurism, and where he’s going next.