What has Hudson Mohawke been doing in the six years since he released his debut LP ‘Butter’? Mainly chillin’? Not quite, Hudmo aka Ross Birchard, has been in demand – side project TNGHT with Lunice went stratospheric in the US and then there’s the small matter of being a producer for hire, notably for God…or more commonly known; mega-ego Kanye West. Birchard worked on West’s ‘Yeezus’ and has found himself as an in-house knob twiddler at GOOD Music.
Now the focus has been pointed back to the Glaswegian’s day job and the release of ‘Lantern’, his long awaited sophomore album. If ‘Butter’ was a frantic flurry of sounds and motifs, all cluttered together with an ADHD mindset – ‘Lantern’ is a much more direct beast. The beats are still gigantic and there’s nothing to leave you wanting if you’re after some serious bangers but in stripping things back a jot, Hudmo has forged a record of instant appeal and almost infinite depth.
‘Lantern’ is a whistle-stop tour through a multitude of musical soundscapes – the club tracks are present and correct; ‘System’, ‘Scud Books’ and ‘Shadows’ bounce and fidget with an immediate hellraising stomp. Then there’s the slower, pensive moments; ‘Warriors’ a call to arms for the oppressed where defiance courses through the tracks veins. “Love is what we’re fighting for/so fuck what they say” comes courtesy of guest vocalists Ruckazoid and Devaeux. Antony Hegarty lends his uniquely beautiful tones to ‘Indian Steps’ a shadowy, vapour like moment at the heart of ‘Lantern’. Miguel’s input to ‘Deep Space’ layers his sumptuous croon over atmospheric electronics and huge echoing beats.
There’s a splendid nod to uplifting soul music from back in the day with ‘Ryderz’ string and horn indebted stomp-along. Notably, the focus will be on the beats that at times sound like amplified dust bins lids being hurled from tall building. ‘Lil Djembe’ is where those beats take on their own life – sounding like thwacked bottles at midnight whilst a sinister carnival rolls out of town.
Video game glitches ripple through ‘Lantern’ like Birchard has plugged in a malfunctioning Gameboy to his assorted bag of sonic tricks. There’s been talk of Mohawke plying his trade to soundtrack work and ‘Kettles’ bracing cinematic menagerie of clarinet trills and xylophone twinkles are the perfect job application for the next Hollywood epic.
There’s many facets to ‘Lantern’ but it all binds together with an effortless poise. Hudmo, don’t make us wait another six years for the follow up!
Words and thoughts of Adam Williams