Hudson Mohawke shuns genre norms on sophomore album ‘Lantern’
Listen to any Hudson Mohawke music out there. You’ll quickly pick up on the fact that the Scottish beat maker, lesser known as Ross Birchard, abides by a meticulously calculated production ethic. The music is so carefully composed, the sounds are so multifaceted, and his ability to put together sonic hay makers rivals his passion for bold experimentation. More than half a decade has passed since his debut LP, Butter, although since then, the former half of TNGHT has tactfully become the scene’s quiet curator, garnering a commanding track record along the way. Recruited by Kanye West as a producer for his G.O.O.D. Music imprint while continuing to remain a recording artist on LuckyMe and Warp Records‘ roster, Birchard finds himself in a position of paramount importance as the anxious wait for his sophomore record commences. Rather than straddling a divide between dance music and hip-hop, HudMo stands as the intersection between the two spectrums, illuminating the cross-point with Lantern.
Lantern isn’t like Chimes or Yeezus , nor is it even really attempting to be. Rather, HudMo spends the length of his new album exploring various different sonic spaces, drawing heavy influence from a wide array of different genre themes. Maintaining a gentle grip on dance and hip-hop elements across 14 originals, HudMo dissects jazz, pop, and R&B over tribal beats and swelling rhythms. Rounding together a cast of collaborators that includes Miguel, Irfane, and Jhené Aiko, Lantern pairs together multiple inspirations and styles for a mosaic of sounds that all come together under Hudson Mohawke’s perfectionist supervision.
Birchard keeps you guessing across the duration of the new LP. “Very First Breath” alongside Irfane is the album’s true opener, pairing a thumping trap beat with chirping accentuations, saturated by poppy vocal work. Before you can even begin to form a mental direction, the next track, “Ryderz” flips any impression you may have gotten upside down. Warping swanky jazz melodies from 1973’s “Watch Out For The Riders,” into a massive, beating hip-hop cut, “Ryderz” is a wailing, boisterous show of finesse as HudMo’s production acumen really begins to shine on Lantern.
“Scud Books” is a collection of euphoric swells and bombastic rhythms, lacing horns through booming drum arrangements, augmented by accents of electronica. By contrast though, “Lil Djembe” is short and moody, as Hudson Mohawke plays with tribal percussion and harrowing melodic interludes. He steps in a completely different direction however on “Deepspace,” swamping stampeding drum progressions for Miguel’s sultry swooning. The collaboration is a cooling, pensive after hours-primed R&B cut, although any continuity of that theme is tossed on “Portrait of Luci.” The track whistles and dances around a clangy, industrial drum beat, devoid of any vocalization, almost like dissonant marching music, as HudMo continues to carve out his ultra-eclectic vision.
As the highly anticipated LP nears its official release, it is refreshing to see such a renown producer step away from his niche and prove his worth across a broad collection of sounds. The album, due June 16th via Warp Records, is highly welcomed diversity, and what it lacks in cohesion, it makes up for in precision and creativity. Having already staked his claim in both the hip-hop and dance music spaces, Ross Birchard explores open water on his sophomore offering, lighting the way by Lantern.