“I take the mic with style and grace/It’s me Clarence G, make no mistake” goes the confident rap from the opening verse of “Clarence G’s Club,” the first track off 1991's debut release by Drexciyan legend James Stinson. Though he could never have foreseen it when those lyrics were penned, it is safe to say that no other record has garnered quite the same uncertainty and mystique among fans of the late electro pioneer. Unresolved issues like why and when it was made, what the significance of the Clarence alias was, or whose voice we were even listening to, pushed the record into cult-status territory for reasons of historical significance—perhaps even more so than for its its musical clout. Earlier this year, presumably to the dismay of the Discogs collectors who dropped the best part of $1000 on one of those rare first pressings, Dutch imprint Clone Records announced that Hyperspace Sound Lab would be the next to join their Aqualung series of Drexciya-related represses.
The release's four tracks a are short, sharp blasts of ghetto- and hip-hop–influenced sounds, more akin to the later work of fellow Detroit exports such as DJ Assault or DJ Godfather than to the timeless aquatic electro that Stinson since gained fame for with Drexciya, Elecktroids or the Other People Place (among others). This is especially true of “Cause I Said It Right,” a track built around a pacy rap, propped up by little other than a clap, pulsing bass and the occasional emphatic “Yeah!” “Clarence G’s Club” is better rounded: Vintage synths ride a similarly upbeat rap (which you have to hope was Stinson himself), producing a catchier tune. For the rest of the record, the lyrics are ditched—“Turbine” is a heavy-going three minutes, during which the tough, crashing drums get a bit much. “Data Transfer,” on the other hand, has hints of the full potential Stinson would later achieve, with a powerful electro sound that was ahead of its time. The work of a young gun experimenting with ideas and machines, Hyperspace Sound Lab is a bit unrefined, yet still hasn’t lost its charm all these years later.