Release date: July 24, 2012
One thing is certain with TNGHT’s self-titled EP—Hudson Mohawke and Lunice know their hip-hop, particularly the dirty American variety.
“Top Floor,” the album opener, begins with a vaguely Ennio Morricone-esque bit of instrumentation before quickly transmuting into a dubby sort of hip-hop, replete with disembodied vocalizations. The beginning is auspicious enough, but it soon settles into the type of song you’d hear blasting from a car sporting spinning rims and an expensive sound system. The dub, perhaps inspired by Massive Attack, redeems the song, but it could have used something more. (This is typical of hip-hop, generally, in my opinion.)
The ante is upped with “Goooo,” but it becomes well apparent at 0:45 that TNGHT are not reinventing the wheel here with this collaboration, but subverting some of the worst sonic cliches of American dirty club hip-hop: the plastic beats, the cascading low bass and the perfunctory gutteral “OOOOoohs.” The duo deserve credit, however, for dropping a sick arpeggiator at 1:40, something that only a select few American producers like Timbaland would attempt.
“Higher Ground” is every bit as club-driven as “Goooo” but subversion gives way to loving parody. That is not to say it’s not quality, it is—but is it a mere exercise? The collective talents of TNGHT far exceed garden-variety of American hip-hop, so why the fixation? It seems that they could have taken this type of hip-hop off the deep end in to real unknown territory.
Then comes “Bugg’n,” a track that finds the duo dipping their feet into more hypnotic waters. It’s psychedelic hip-hop: dark, twisted, fun and in love with bits of sound. There is an Asian feel to this one which serves the song well until some IDM tropes are dropped.
The hallucinatory aesthetic bleeds into “Easy Easy,” which sounds rather like a cuckoo clock simultaneously inhabiting the land of Looney Tunes and video game soundtracks. Then TNGHT drop the deep bass for a bit to remind us that they know America’s run-of-the-mill hip-hop. Their subversive tendencies work best on this track, the most cohesive and fully-realized song on the EP.
Stream “Bugg’n” below.