Review of Hudson Mohawke's album Butter
Times have been quiet in electronic music of late, so joy is me when I am passed a fresh Warp release to cast my critical ear upon. Here we have Hudson Mohawke (Hud Mo) who you may remember from the 'Oops EP' released in 2009. Well following that release Scottish 23 year old Ross Birchard found himself coddled together with acts like Rustie and Flying Lotus in a genre known as 'Wonky'. Despite this and since being the youngest DJ ever to win the DMC championship and the tender age of 15, Birchard seems to have made it his mission to take on the sounds of the US hip-hop mainstream and pull them to the UK underground.
'Shower Melody' opens Butter, and it's clear from the start that Hud Mo has been well and truly bitten by the 80's revival that we are currently enduring. Not that that's entirely a bad thing. Sounds in Shower Melody point more to Prince than Katrina and the Waves. 'Joy Fantastic' sounds like an Outkast release that's been produced by Andre 3000. Lush synth stabs, clattering beats, and Olivier Daysoul on vocal duties. This song is excellently executed, if not a tad out of place.
As the album progressed I found my self subject to a lot of the kind of sounds i've been avoiding since my childhood, but rather than loathe the output I find myself strangely drawn to Birchard's take on the 80's. It's hip-hop, it's break beat, it's crunk, it's even sometimes dub-step, though you'd never tell from the use of synths.
The penultimate track 'All Hot' featuring Dam-Funk (Stones Throw) is by far the standout track of the album. With vocals provided by fellow Glaswegian Ciorsdan Brown 'All Hot' is one of the finest future R n' B tracks released for years. It's tweaked out, deep, and very sexy.
I'll admit, following 'Oops' I was initially disappointed with 'Butter'. Not only had it succumb to the 80's revival trap, but it wasn't close to 'Oops' in terms of the choice of sounds. That aside I persevered and I was won over eventually. 'Butter' is a showcase of what Birchard is best at, but it is perhaps a result of this sounding like a showcase that this isn't an album you'll listen to time and time again. The tracks with vocals do feel abit like an advert for his production skills should any one wish to enlist his help. Irrespective it is clear that Hud Mo is a forced to be reckoned with, who continues to defy genrefication.