Hudson Mohawke (born Ross Birchard) fits into the unique position as a DJ with such a varied production history, that anything he is set to put out is near guaranteed to please. An extremely talented mixer since his youth, competing in the UK DMC Championship, Hudson has worked as one half of the hard hitting electronic trap duo of TNGHT alongside Canadian DJ Lunice, as well as produce for the likes of Kanye West, Pusha T and Lil Wayne under the GOOD Music Label. It has been six years since his first studio album Butter saw release and if nothing else, the producers sophomore album Lantern serves as an example of just how much he has grown and developed his talents. Mohawke seems to make it a point that he is not limited to producing for rappers and that he very much so belongs right here, crafting hard hitting dub styled tracks alongside anthemic, melodic vocal pieces. While some of the recordings don't quite reach their potential, the album as a whole feels like a demonstration of raw talent.
Unfortunately, the album kicks off on a decidedly unappealing note. "Very First Breath" opens us up with a synthed out harmony that builds nicely but drops us off at a...less than stellar vocal performance from Irfane. The screechy lyrics hide a pleasing, progressive electronic beat; the two parts feel disconnected and competing over the same sound. This is one of only five tracks on the album that houses features, opening up the record to more opportunities for the beatsmith to shine. We also hear from Miguel on "Deepspace," who doesnt hold back at all. He soars over an ambient track and deep bass, a phenomenal performance that leaves that track on a manipulated guitar solo to take us home. Jhene Aiko also makes an appearance with "Resistance," another great performance that cooperates with the electronic back beat. These features are sprinkled in at the right moments and work well with the general flow of the album.
Then there are the big hitters, the tracks that feel downright satisfying. "Scud Books" is a triumphant piece, large and hard hitting. Powerful, catchy melodies over a steadily pounding beat; the song progresses and doesn't settle on any one piece; the whole track moves and impresses. The Glaswegian DJ doesn't rely on bright melodies exclusively. "System" shows off a tough Euro dance beat and some nice dubbed out hooks while "Warriors" coasts along with softer vocals and a rewarding chorus.
Hidden in between these dance tracks we can still see traces of Mohawke's hip hop history. While "Ryderz" can stand on its own, it almost feels like an instrumental piece, begging for Kanye to give it his blessing. Aside from these minor hiccups and the occasional song like "Shadows" that does what the other tracks to, but just not as good, the album is quite nice. It's varied and demonstrates some serious technical skill. These recordings aren't simple by any means, but they don't get carried away with themselves or weighed down with too many layers. The album may lack the one track that blows my mind away, but some do come close. I hope that whatever Hudson Mohawke decides to do next will lead him back to another album eventually, one that I am certain will be another step in the right direction.