Music reviews: Hudson Mohawke, Everything Everything, The Orb
While Kanye West attempts to back up his grand bragging as “the greatest living rock star on the planet” by butchering Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody on stage at Glastonbury, Yeezus collaborator Hudson Mohawke, aka unassuming Scottish DJ/producer Ross Birchard, took time from producing West’s upcoming album to release his own work, Lantern.
As with all big-time EDM producers, the follow up to 2009’s Butter arrives buzzing with plenty of hype, ambitious ideas and a slew of high-profile guest vocalists. On Very First Breath, Breakbot collaborator Irfane lays vocals over a synth bed of busy beats and boom-claps, before the soul sampling Ryderz attacks the ears with a rattling thump. R&B singer Jhené Aiko appears on the shimmering Resistance, while on Deepspace, singer Miguel lets rip over what sounds like a load of dustbin lids being carefully chucked down the stairs.
Surprisingly for an artist known for making banging beats sparkle, the production sounds rather flat and soulless, and with the crazy amount of ideas being thrown around, stylistically it suffers from a lack of flow.
Hudson Mohawke Lantern (Warp Records)
Led by the falsetto-voiced frontman Jonathan Higgs, aptly monikered alternative art-pop band Everything Everything sound like they are eight eccentric bands rolled into one. It's a bold melting-pot formula that has so far worked well for the Manchester-based quartet, garnering both Mercury Prize and Ivor Novello award nominations.
Mixing catchy chart-topping choruses with glitchy beats, jittery rap and post-punk guitars, Higgs manages to weave his dark social commentary into exuberant anthems. Lead single Distant Past, a song about "primal human nature", manages to sound both cutting edge and like a '90s dance rock classic. But just like the rest of the album, it still manages to retain a pinpoint focus.
Regret mixes fretboard noodling with an electro-soul chorus, before the twitchy attack-pop of the stunning Blast Doors sees Higgs spitting about hearing "the death rattle of a time wasted". What could so easily have sounded chaotic and nonsensical remains smart and colourfully engrossing. This album is a good reminder that less isn't necessarily more.
Everything Everything Get to Heaven (Sony Music)
"If you believe in evil, then you probably need a whack on the back of the neck with a big f****** stick," says a man at the start of God's Mirrorball, beginning another cosmic journey into the wondrous skies of ambient house, aboard the good ship Orb.
Following on from 2005's Okie Dokie ..., Alex Paterson and his long-term collaborator, Thomas Fehlmann, return with their first album on German label Kompakt in 10 years, with claims that "it spins the listener on his/her head, rewiring their brains to maximum capacity, then brings them home, sweet home".
Never ones to shy away from a lengthy mind-expanding trip, three of the four tracks on here clock in well over the 10-minute mark, the morphing landscapes of 1990s trance music still vast and pulsating. Swells of synth gently ebb and flow until the first beat kicks in, immediately transporting you back 20 years to the heyday of the genre.
Gliding effortlessly from electronica to throbbing deep trance house to the skunk funk beats of the title track, it's another adventure beyond the ultraworld that's certainly worth taking.
The Orb Moonbuilding 2703AD (Kompakt)