Album Review – HUDSON MOHAWKE: CHIMES EP

Alright Hudson Mohawke, you’ve stumped me. I’ve listened to the Chimes EP frontwards and backwards over a dozen times, and I just can’t make heads or tails of it. To keep things simple, it’s likable. It’s not immediately offensive to the ears. It delivers a pretty solid example of what the producer can do, and it has some good replay value. So what’s the problem? Well, the Chimes EP is woefully short, and has the audacity to repeat itself. It’s short, sweet, and gives a justifiable feeling of deja vu.

If you don’t know who Hudson Mohawke is, don’t feel ashamed. Part of making your mark behind the boards means having at least a little anonymity for a while. Sometimes it’s due to a lack of outside presence, other times it could be a purposeful move. It’s likely that it’s the former in Mohawke’s case. His name has been ringing in Hip-Hop and EDM circles for a couple years, never quite taking that leap, but in 2013 he put his stamp on a large portion of hip-hop with beats for himself, Pusha T, and being a key component of the stripped down, but maximalisitc sound on “Yeezus” by Kanye West. So, his latest EP has something of a “coming out” feeling to it. The opening track, “Chimes” is very similar to what you heard on “Yeezus” with a deep low end, and large use of horns. The song feels triumphant yet sleek, which may explain why it was used for an Apple ad.

“Brainwave” hearkens back to his electronic “roots” if you can call it that. A trance-inducing, repeater track that is high on the midi and synth reverb. It almost sounds like the climax of a kid-friendly sci-fi movie. On an fullfledged album it would be a thirty-second interlude, possibly even into the next track, “King Kong Beaver” where we find Mohawke in more traditional space, at least for him anyway. The kick drum on this song, is booming, but not after the synth lines and handclaps make their presence known. It is easily the more “video gamey” of the two electronic songs. “King Kong Beaver” has the distinction of simulating sounds that were otherwise perfected on chimes to a more subdued degree, yet it is still effective, if only because the sequencing and compositions are so impressive. This then leads to the biggest letdown of the EP.

The Chimes EP opens and closes with the same track; “Chimes.” Billed as the Gammer Re-Edit for the fourth track, it is essentially the same song, just sped up and with a few more drum patterns, not even different enough to garner the “remix” moniker. Still, a solid song, and way more of a hip-hop track than the first, it still comes off like a shortchanging situation. So, while the Chimes EP is good, it doesn’t feel full enough to get a firm grasp on Hudson Mohawke, especially when he’s going into re-runs so soon. If you’re already familiar with his work, it’s a decent helping of what you already know, but if you’re a newcomer, it barley whets your appetite.

Originally published onInyourspeakers.com (10/07/2014)

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