Album Review: Hudson Mohawke | Butter

Originally published by Time Out Chicago: TOC | HudMo




Hiphop\hip-häp \ v + Dubstep \ dub-step \ n + glitch \glich \ n

In the past few years, fresh incarnations of U.K. bass music—dubstep, grime, funky—have infiltrated U.S. ears and commingled with the already left-field hip-hop scene here. The ensuing love affair between the speaker-rattling styles has produced numerous artists, most prominently L.A.’s Flying Lotus and his Ann Arbor brethren Samiyam and Dabrye, who’ve subsequently made waves overseas, spawning the latest cycle of bass-loving cross-pollination.

Glaswegian wunderkind Hudson Mohawke—a.k.a. 23-year-old Ross Birchard—is at the center of this new generation. On his debut album, Butter, he playfully creates an abstract hip-hop fantasia, with moments that are dark, frantic and fleeting and others that are breathy, fluid and beautiful.

At times, his productions sound as if P-Funk and Outkast collided with Prefuse 73—two-minute cosmic funk workouts that are more sketches than songs. A glimmer of hope for a more complete thought arrives with “3.30,” which could have been beamed down by a J Dilla circa 2050. At other times, the two minutes become two too many: “Trykk” is crammed with so many drum crashes and cheap MIDI horn sounds it comes off like a digital Tasmanian Devil having at an orchestra hall.

Yet as the album continues, HudMo hits his stride…and it’s a slower one, as when he lets loose the half-time head-nodder “ZOo00OOm,” in which his taste for breakneck-pace glitch floats over a proper dubstep beat. He also reaches equilibrium on “Rising 5,” containing his freak-outs in favor of syrupy, Sa-Ra-like boom-bap soul. All told, it begs the question, is this what digital-age kids hear in their heads: something sublime yet scatterbrained?


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