Hudson Mohawke is the loudest motherfucker on the planet. I had the explicit pleasure of being up close and personal with the Glaswegian noise-making, trap-beat-purveying, earth-shattering producer this week by forcing myself outside of my comfort zone. Coming off the back of what was allegedly a legendary set at our own Field Day (he clashed with Disclosure – don’t blame me), HudMo was announced as a special guest at a Numbers night alongside a raft of other UK disc-slingers I knew very little about. To get there, I had to keep myself awake and charging until two in the morning, after spending the first half of the evening watching a Beach House show, which is more conducive to having sex and falling asleep, as any fan will know. I also had to suspend belief in how much noise one guy and a Macbook coud make. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve seen Chris Cunningham, Justice and plenty of other extreme volume practitioners. At only 26 years old, Hudson wipes the floor with them. And then he has to start again before our eardrums have just burst and now we’re bleeding all over the carpet.
From an underground hit writer as a teen with the LuckyMe collective he helped found (home to the One A Day-approved S-Type, Rustie and Machinedrum among others) through to a cult hero, HudMo’s sound has gotten bigger, brasher and meaner, but the appeal seems to have spread way beyond his original crew of listeners. Much of that came from his last EP ‘Satin Panthers’, from which this song originates, which caught the ears of hip-hop producers across the pond, including Kanye West, who would tap him for extra production on Cruel Summer. He took it one further when teaming up with labelmember Lunice (you may remember him as the guy dancing in Azealia Banks’ ’212′ video) on their latest project, TNGHT, which literally takes the low-hanging beats of Dirty South hip-hop, attaches a jet pack to it and sends it to the bottom of the Earth. Your ears have ever heard anything quite as absurdly full-on as this. It’s the reason kids were lining up around the corner very early on a Friday morning, before piling themselves into a tiny room and throwing each other around like they were at a Rick Ross show.
For me it all starts with ‘Thunder Bay’, which I first heard on . As much as Mohawke delights in destroying ears, he’s also a champion of riff-writing. When combined with his incredible nous for brutal bass tweaking and drum sounds, all of which sit comfortably in half-time to encourage the kind of rubbernecking effect you only see in scripted music videos, it’s pretty much lethal. ‘Thunder Bay’s lead line is a bass figure that seems to sound like horns as warped through a keyboard and set to off-beats and additive rhythms. Of course, it’s not nearly as low as HudMo intends to go, and when the sample glass breaks around the forty-second mark, you get to see the full evil he’s been cooking up in the lab. It is impossible not to have a reaction to this kind of sound, something Kanye and all the others who have clamoured to work with the kid know very well. Your head involuntarily jerks back and forth in time with the original groove as the extra elements come pouring in; trill cymbals, double-time garage snares, acid rave vocals, bro shout figures, it’s all here. As such, you get to the end of a three-and-a-half minute piece of music with your heart pounding in your chest even through there’s no words and no B section. By my standards, that’s pretty damn impressive. Mosh pits are few and far between these days as we grow into a generation of arm-crossers at the back of the room. With Mohawke, there is no choice. And I kind of like that.
Hudson Mohawke – ‘Thunder Bay’