Release Date: Oct 27, 2009
Record label: Warp
The artwork's liable to convert any room in which it is viewed into a makeshift vomitorium, and the music -- from a Glaswegian producer possibly named after connected New York rivers, albeit with a vowel thrown in for search-proofing -- is absolutely "acquired taste" territory. Sometimes needlessly complex and, at its worst, goofy for the sake of being goofy -- proper boots-in-a-dryer bizniz with shrill flotsam swirling about -- these tracks can be as off-putting as they are exhilarating. A fearless scrap heap mutation that incorporates icebox IDM crunch, DayGlo synthesizer funk and, most notably, late-'80s/early-'90s R&B flourishes -- exemplified by "Just Decided"'s synthetic horns and "Twistclip Loop"'s keyboard sprites -- the album is nonetheless deeply affecting in stretches.
Remember ‘Sandwiches’ by Detroit Grand Pubahs? Come on! It got to number 29 in the UK singles charts in 2000. It talked about sandwiches but was actually about boning, and included the lyric “make your thighs like butter, easy to spread”. Hudson Mohawke’s debut full-length album does not sound like Detroit Grand Pubahs, and the man himself – a 23-year-old Glaswegian called Ross Birchard – claims that Butter, as an album title, is more of an Isaac Hayes thing.
The young Scottish electronic music artist Ross Birchard has been making quite a name for himself under his alias Hudson Mohawke. The unassuming-looking Birchard (all black t-shirts and boyish countenance) built up his reputation through his teens (including winning the UK DMC DJ Championships at age 14), and proceeded to release several recordings before joining the Warp Records roster in 2007. After releasing the critically praised Polyfolk Dance EP earlier this year, Warp has now issued his debut full-length album, Butter, which has been in the works from the moment he signed with the label two years ago.
From mixing on his dad's hi-fi at the age of eight, to competing in the UK DJ finals at 15, Ross Birchard has never lacked chutzpah. Under the moniker Hudson Mohawke, Birchard now has his sights set on making great pop music, albeit in the most challenging way he can find. Of all the many labels applied to Hudson Mohawke's music, "wonky" may be the best.
Gareth Dance music has been enjoying a purple patch of late. It certainly seems to have a lock on the charts, with Calvin Harris and Armand Van Helden's zippy productions playing a key role in Dizzee Rascal's leap to stardom. There's also a nostalgia circuit beginning to emerge, with the Prodigy proving as big a draw as the headline rock acts at Reading.
Figuring ‘wonky’ just won’t do, Glasgow whizzkid [a]Hudson Mohawke[/a] has provided some suggestions as to what to call his overripe electronica. Neither ‘hologram rock’ nor ‘irridescent body music’ are likely to catch on, but at least they give you a clue as to what’s in the box. [b]‘Fruit Touch’[/b] is a treacly [a]Squarepusher[/a], [b]‘FUSE’[/b] is the theme tune to a kids’ science show hosted by Pharrell and George Clinton, and [b]‘Just Decided’[/b] sounds like Cameo trapped in Super Mario World.
Showcasing his stuttering spin on hip-hop beats, 23-year-old Glaswegian producer Ross Birchard, who records as Hudson Mohawke, demonstrates no shortage of ideas and energy on Butter. Like the album's neon-scorched cover, which includes hawks with mohawks, he doesn't do restraint or subtlety. "Joy Fantastic" has to be the true over-the-top cartoon moment of the already wired debut album.