Hudson Mohawke was among the first producers to contextualize trap beats with dance music maximalism, unequivocally showing that the old divisions were horseshit. With the help of his TNGHT cohort Lunice and fellow beatmonster and LuckyMe labelmate Rustie, the Scottish DJ helped usher in the era of so-called “trap-rave,” demolishing one of the final stockades between rap and dance. But as trap-rave has become cliché and the most interesting dance music has veered to the weird, HudMo’s Chimes EP feels a bit like a referendum on the house he built.
The title track is a hulking take on the concept of layering, with its grime-inspired thump fading out into an eerie denouement of high-pitched incantations. (The latter are played in reverse and rendered unintelligible under the crystal twinkle of chimes.) On Chimes, emphasizing a pretty, subtle element beneath the midtempo BPM and counter-rhythm is a statement that ham-fisted excess won’t fly in this world where a guy like HudMo can rise up from the U.K.’s boundary-pushing LuckyMe Collective and land on Yeezus (a potential Pusha/2 Chainz version of “Chimes” notwithstanding). “Brainwave” is a study in sweetness and synth tones; one that parallels all the ambiance on his friend Rustie’s Green Language, as though there’s an understanding that the producers in the comfy crevices between rap and electronic music are tiring of rote time signatures and club-mosh anthems. Or maybe they’re creating a space for women on the dance floor — “Brainwave”‘s lilting sweetness has a much-appreciated softer quality, while the melody on “King Kong Beaver” is dynamic and punch-drunk enough for lovestruck midnight makeouts. (WTF is that title though, homie.) Chimes is just three songs and a remix — by Scottish hardcore stalwart Gammer, another indication HudMo is drafting a new roadmap — but it’s got a surprising emotional palette, and it’s a nice taste until HudMo’s next full-length, after which many other trends will have risen and gone and burnt to a crisp.