Glaswegian wunderkind, Kanye collaborator and Warp mainstay, Hudson Mohawke has become known for a maverick production style that he's been honing for a few years now. Vocal squeaks, wonky trap beats and harsh, melodramatic synthesisers clatter together like no-one else's. It's what makes his tracks so arresting, and impactful.
With new album 'Lantern', Ross Birchard seems to be trying to take this sound to the mainstream with a series of vocal features and club-orientated bangers. Unfortunately for the most part his unconventional approach means the bangers don't really bang nor are they unconventional enough to be interesting. The element of the unexpected in HudMo's music seems to be increasingly disappearing in favour of the predictable drop with pounding kick drums that sound like they've been recorded in the bathroom. That said, just as you're about to give up on this record completely, you reach 'Kettles' and 'Scud Boots' and you start to see what HudMo is getting at.
Okay, 'Kettles' doesn't try to do the whole eccentric production thing so much and that's why it works. The arrangement is the same but the use of orchestral sounds makes for a more lush and full experience. In a way, 'Scud Books' is even more of a triumph because it's one of the few times you feel HudMo strikes the uneasy balance of oddball and familiar. It's one of a handful of moments on 'Lantern' where the production clicks and delivers the energy we've been promised. 'Lil Djembe' is another refreshing switch stylistically with a more stripped back tribal feel but then, with the Miguel feature 'Deepspace', the record quickly loses its bite once again.
Of all the stellar vocal features, the only one that feels coherent and worthwhile is the Fatima Yamaha-referencing 'Resistance', with Jhene Aiko on singing duty - and props to HudMo for sampling such a gem of a slow-burner.
We really want to like 'Lantern' for its originality; its bravery and its attempt to grasp a genuine uninhibited euphoria that isn't easy pull off. Sadly it just misses the mark way too often and leaves you with fleeting glimpses of what could have been a very exciting album.
Words: Jack Dolan
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