Six years on from his debut album, Kanye West favorite, TNGHT co-founder and beatmaker extraordinaire Ross Birchard, aka Hudson Mohawke, finally returns to the solo fray with the intention of “making a classic” on his sophomore release, Lantern.
The follow-up to 2009’s Butter doesn’t quite fulfil the Glaswegian’s rather lofty ambitions, but alongside recent releases from the likes of Rustie and Lockah, it’s another sign that the Scottish electronica scene is in excellent health.
The maximalistic approach that defined Lantern’s predecessor is still employed here too, including the three dizzying instrumentals which conclude the record (“Portrait of Luci,” “System,” “Brand New World”), and the nervy lead single “Very First Breath.”
There’s also a familiarity to the ominous synths and booming beats of “Scud Books,” the closest that Hudson Mowhake comes to the trap sound of his TNGHT side-project, and the grimy horror movie soundtrack vibes of “Lil Djembe,” which recalls his stellar production work on Kanye’s Yeezus.
But it’s when the 29-year-old ventures into more melodic song-based territory that Lantern comes closest to reaching his goal. The haunting quivering tones of Antony Hegarty prove to be the perfect foil for the brooding electro balladry of “Indian Steps.” Miguel cements his status as one of today’s premier soul crooners on the clattering percussion and Prince-esque guitars of “Deepspace,” while Jhene Aiko acquits herself just as well on the moody alt-R&B of “Resistance.”
Away from the star names, the classic D.J. Rogers sample and head-nodding beats of “Ryderz” help provide the coolest ‘haterz’ anthem of the year, while the unknown Ruckazoid and Devauex almost steal the show on the dramatic hip-hop soul of “Warriors.”
It may have been a long time coming, but packed with the same kind of invention and sonic adventurousness that previously propelled Hudson Mohawke into the big league, Lantern more than justifies the wait.