tue 28/05/2024

Album: Hudson Mohawke - Cry Sugar | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Hudson Mohawke - Cry Sugar

Album: Hudson Mohawke - Cry Sugar

An apocalyptic masterpiece from the Glaswegian dance pioneer

The journey of Ross “Hudson Mohawke” Birchard has been truly one of the most extraordinary in modern music. From teenage scratch DJ champion and happy hardcore raver in some of Glasgow’s more feral club environments, in the late Noughties he quickly moved through making rhythmically fractured hip hop.

Just as quickly he leapt into huge trap beats that made him a trailblazer in the explosion of the arena-packing US EDM scene, and from there to being studio collaborator of choice for Kanye West, making significant contributions to 2013’s Yeezus and 2016’s Life of Pablo. Now LA based, he is simply one of the biggest names in electronic music outside of straight-up trance or EDM.

Incredibly, that is all summed up on his third solo album. Given his staggering levels of success, Birchard could very easily have burned out or slipped into a commercial dance or hip hop rut – but wonderfully, he has managed to find a third way, a dialectic that synthesises both of those things into something altogether less predictable and more mind blowing.

From the disturbingly warped pop art sleeve on in, the sense of post-rave meltdown and the delirium of the decaying American dream is there in spades. There is fuzz and crackle and rhythms that trip over themselves, weird varispeed samples of soul and gospel that ooze by with passing-car doppler effects, games with distance and distortion that both create a sense of a shifting physical landscape and also trigger all kinds of haunting cultural memories.

But for all that it deliberately screws with your mind and with the source material, there is little to no sense of cynicism here. Big riffs and vocal snippets from trance, happy hardcore, commercial hip hop and R&B might be put through a psychedelic blender, but they are somehow treated with respect and love too: not just respect and love for the sounds, but for the cultures and flesh and blood humans behind them.

This record is absolutely, unabashedly, anthemic even as it is apocalyptic and frayed. It is a wild ride, but it a rewarding one, and incredibly timely. In a time when the grand spectacle of pop culture and the grand guignol of every news bulletin threaten to overwhelm at every turn, it’s a reminder of how humanity, community and culture all abide even in the most garish and weirdest places. It is truly extraordinary.


Hear "Cry Sugar Megamix":

This record is absolutely, unabashedly, anthemic even as it is apocalyptic and frayed


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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