Hudson Mohawke is a phenomenon. Hudson, once known as DJ Itchy, was the UK’s youngest ever DMC Finalist and has shown the world what he’s been working on in the time he gets between producing Kayne West, writing songs for Grand Theft Auto V and being an outright trend setter.
‘Lantern‘ was first previewed in March via Hudson’s YouTube channel with this teaser.
This confusing albeit enticing 82 second clip instantly sparked a torrent of articles and tweets. Not only was Hudmo back, he had an album in his arsenal. An album which he played with live musical backing at Field Day. An album that in spite of every rapper you can name wanting to jump on board, features no rappers. It does, however, feature singers on five out of its fourteen tracks. Go figure.
Lantern starts off with it’s title sake and the soundtrack that plays with the teaser video making for an incredibly powerful and ambient record. The ‘HUDSON MOHAWKE‘ ad libs are almost built into the songs as a sonicaid. High voices are coupled with raw, sawtooth synth builds all the while making for a solid foundation for this colossal album to present itself on like a crude greek sculpture.
‘Very First Breath‘ feat. Irfane was released shortly after the album teaser and before long was Annie Mac’s hottest record in the world. Very electronic as you would expect from Hudmo, but the dissonant chords are galvanised by the pitched up vocals provided by Irfane.
‘Ryderz’ is the standout track with its sample from the 1973 release by D.J. Rodgers ‘Watch out for the Ryders’. A chorus of soul vocals is interrupted by a intentionally inorganic snare which kicks off the anthem in Hudmo style. Sublime.
‘Warriors‘ feat. Ruckazoid could bring mosh pits and sportswear clad teens to a standstill with soft vocals provided by Ruckazoid and the accompanying backing singers. It’s hard not to imagine that this song would be phenomenal live. This isn’t what you’d usually expect from him and that’s almost certainly intentional. A proverbial middle finger to those pesky pigeonholes, if you will.
‘Kettles’ follows suit with a style that is not dissimilar from a film soundtrack (unconfirmed if Star Wars have dropped John Williams). It’s sonically beautiful and until the likes of Koreless came through the ranks and showed us there isn’t need for a constant beat in electronic music, Kettles would have been a track to be skipped over on your iPod (other mp3 playing devices are available). ‘Scud Books’ is up next and the latest upload to the Glaswegian’s SoundCloud starts to steer back onto what we would expect from this album. Deep and echoing kick drums and a myriad of snares.
‘Indian Steps‘ feat. Anthony takes its black bomber jacket off and performs sitting on the floor in front of you. It’s hard to imagine Hudson Mohawke in a Live Lounge setting (not in the arena tour EDM artist way) but in the size of his sonic spectrum. This is the only track since ‘OOPS’ in 2008 that I feel could be played unplugged and still be as, if not more effective as a record.
‘Lil Djemba’ introduces itself to your ear drums with those middle eastern percussion which will forever prove popular. An incredibly dissonant track but not the best. Of course it serves a purpose: showing the audience what he’s capable of and in which directions he’s headed.
From the off ‘Deepspace‘ feat. Miguel promises of a singalong chorus and lyrics that are soulful enough to have been featured in your 2004 MSN screen name. It delivers a distant backing that reveals itself towards the foreground as the chorus comes in and could easily be the track that closes the concert, forcing you to hold up a clipper, hugging your mates telling them (even the one you don’t actually like that much) “I really love you, man”.
‘Shadows’ is ironically a particularly bright song. There’s an 8-bit Rugrats feel that is soon pushed aside by awesome percussion. Shadows is another anthem and it wouldn’t surprise me if a rapper jumped onto this track. There is a scratched white noise layer throughout the song to build tension and has the perfect effect, possibly a nod towards the DMC days.
‘Resistance‘ feat. Jhene Aiko is up next; a phenomenal track with wonderful vocals that are mirrored in the melody. A very laid back and relaxed song for this album, the percussion starts becoming more confident towards the end of the song when Jhene is ringing out. ‘Portrait of Luci’ is a track that proves that the dark style Hudmo finely tuned whilst working with Lunice in the collective TNGHT isn’t exclusive for his genre.
‘System’ starts with a flurry of synthesisers, twirling in a hurricane that is the penultimate track to this album. This isn’t a slow melodic song to break up the album, this is a song for Hudmo to flex his muscles to and say ‘Yes, I’m still capable of making tracks like this‘. A signature kick drum and an aggressive snare make for great listening and would undoubtedly be a highlight in a live show.
‘Brand New World’ closes the album in a unconventional yet appropriate fashion with another track that wouldn’t seem out of place in the background of film. The Lion King-esque vocals plied with the heavily synthesised guitars make for an emotionally charged track brimming Hudmo’s creativity and flair.
Overall a very necessary album in the world of electronic music and one that suggests that Hudmo has got quite the future ahead of him. Setting the standard for the biggest names in music and maintaining his link to the underground Glaswegian scene that nurtured him, Lantern is a fantastic compilation of audio that cements Ross’s already God like status in the industry.
Words by Mark Campion