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TNGHT – TNGHT EP

20 July 2012, 08:58 Written by Chris Lo
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As leading lights in the hungry new generation of electro/hip-hop beatmakers, as well as LuckyMe affiliates, it was only a matter of time before Glasgow-born electro prodigy Hudson Mohawke and Dilla-esque Canadian producer Lunice combined their sonic chi. This transatlantic dream team might have taken a while to materialise, but maybe it’s better that way. TNGHT finds Lunice and HudMo not only well matched as artists, but united under a common cause – the TNGHT EP stems from the pair’s shared desire to take a detour from the lush maximalism of their solo work to focus on straight-up hip-hop beats; the kind that rappers would sell their left swag gland to rhyme over. As HudMo put it in a recent Pitchfork interview: “We’re in a situation where we might as well just go for it ourselves rather than releasing records from our own little world and having mainstream pop and rap producers ripping all our shit off”.

So TNGHT is as much a statement of intent and a bass-thumping billboard aimed at the hip-hop world as it is a musical side project. And as far as advertisements go, the TNGHT EP is a damn fine one, a five-track showcase that should make mainstream rappers sit up and take notice, if they haven’t already (quite a few have).

The EP emphatically carries through on the duo’s resolution to pare their sound back to the hip-hop essentials. There’s a sniper-scope focus to Lunice and HudMo’s arrangements here, a shared one track mind that sacrifices a little of their usual fullness and variety to achieve a more spacious sound. Most of the space is made in the mid-range, as these tracks find their power in the interplay of loping basslines and an array of squeaking, squealing sound effects that rattle around the high end, with very little occupying the sonic acreage that lies in between. It’s a great, time-honoured equilibrium: the basslines, thick and undulating, drive the beats forward while the upper register is dedicated to adding crunchy, gleefully atonal sonic textures to the mix.

The songs present a rigorously unified front, to the extent that they run the risk of falling into formula. But although the template of big bass accompanied by trilling samples is the dominant force, there’s still a healthy amount of experimentation going on. The clattering percussion on ‘Bugg’n’ sounds like a couple of angry robots going at each other with a collection of kitchen pans, HudMo and Lunice suddenly dialling back the echo effects to bring the battle right into your front room. ‘Higher Ground’ opens with a vocal sample cut up into rhythmic slices before a thunderous blast of digital horns rolls in with a balls-out hip-hop swagger, like the meaner older brother of Mohawke’s Satin Panthers highlight ‘Thunder Bay’. Closing number ‘Easy Easy’ builds a dizzying loop of arcade bleeps to create an effect that’s akin to hearing snatches of fairground noise while being thrown about on some whirligig teacup ride. The EP might exhibit more craftsmanship than true artistry, but the constant carousel of textures and rhythms makes it a sensory delight.

The fact is, every track that TNGHT have come up with here is as good a hip-hop instrumental as an MC could wish for. As it is, this is an engaging, propulsive set of beats, but each song feels like a perfectly sketched illustration just waiting for a Lil Wayne, or a Busta Rhymes, or an Azealia Banks to fill it in with some furious flows. Indeed, the pair have mentioned that a number of undisclosed MCs are already lined up to have a crack. Given the potential of the EP, the prospect of pairing them off with rappers who are up to the task is a tantalising one. While Lunice and HudMo’s next solo works, both due to drop later this year, will undoubtedly make a bigger splash among their own fans, it’s this EP, knocked up over a couple of days in a tiny studio off Oxford Street, that stands the best chance of propelling them from the edges of the mainstream rap scene to its very centre.

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