Album Review: Hudson Mohawke - Chimes EP

Album Reviews
Gerrit Feenstra

I don't know if there's a UK producer on the scene who has had a bigger 2014 than Hudson Mohawke. The Glasgow native has been riding an unstoppable wave of momentum that hasn't stopped since his collaboration with Lunice, TNGHT, put out their eponymous EP back in July of 2012. Since then, I don't think there's been a memorable DJ set played that hasn't had at least an ounce of a TNGHT track or one of the subsequent Hudson Mohawke tracks. The group got the attention of one Kanye West, who featured the two on the Yeezus masterpiece "Blood On The Leaves", and since then, Hudson Mohawke is more or less a household name in the realm of progressive electronic production. Leading up to the release of his first post-TNGHT solo EP, the man has devastated every building he's been asked to DJ at. For evidence, you only have to look back a month to his excellent BBC1 set for Diplo & Friends or his Boiler Room x Ray Ban special event in LA, complete with a three minute introduction by Eric Wareheim. The latter features a live appearance from Busta Rhymes (26:30), a ravenous new remix of Kanye West's "Monster" (48:00), and a point at which the power gives way completely. But apart from the hype, the cool factor, the light shows, and the crazy dance music culture, Hudson Mohawke is just a genius of a producer, and there's no way to deny that, especially with his new EP Chimes. With a handful of new tracks no doubt the select offering of several dozen we've yet to feast on, Hudson Mohawke reminds us why he is at the top of the food chain right now, and does it in a way that makes you lose your mind.

The Chimes title track easily finds itself among the absolute best of the year's dance tracks. The intro synth chime is instantly recognizable and the build is so natural that even at the point of the explosive chorus drop, nothing feels forced. The TNGHT-style brass lays into you as the bass guides things forward before another breath above the waves and another dive into the deep dark. The track is an easy sell for DJ sets of all kinds - bass heavy sets that want another banger halfway through, or lighter sets that want a killer high point with a slightly groovier tempo. With "Chimes", Hudson has created a beastly modern classic on par with the TNGHT highlights like "Higher Ground".

"Brainwave" is definitely the most experimental offering on Chimes hinting a bit at Oneohtrix Point Never while still maintaining the definitive HudMo size and scope. A spherical synthesizer line is backed by waves upon waves of choir voices and bass, both piled to the sky for maximum effect. The interlude track fits perfectly between "Chimes" and its afterparty "King Kong Beaver", balancing a seismic mass of power with haunting fragility, both elements of which Hudson is no stranger to.

"King Kong Beaver" dropped just days after "Chimes" was first released, but it was buried in Cashmere Cat's incredible Pitchfork MoMA Mix next to Sophie's jarring "Lemonade", so only fans willing to dig have had time to spin it for months on end (this isn't the first Cashmere nod to Hudson by the way - his edit of "Forever 1" still to this day one of the most strikingly beautiful of his works). Where "Chimes" takes TNGHT-era Mohawke to new levels of power and drive, "King Kong Beaver" lets the energy burn a little longer, harking back to older Hudson efforts and giving us a melody-heavy synth cut that floats just as much as it pounds. Long-time Hudson fans will find this track very much to their liking.

Chimes is out now on Warp. It contains all the above tracks plus a remix of "Chimes" by UK dance producer Gammer. Check Bleep for full quality digital downloads and the 12" vinyl. Hudson will play all over the globe through the end of the year, but keep an eye on his Facebook for any future North American dates.

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