While music continues to challenge and divert many artists and bands, it’s never without any due cause. For many, Hudson Mohawke’s Butter was a resounding success of what electronic music could truly be – explosive, creative, diverse – and for others, it was eighteen songs of way too many ideas. Regardless of what camp you fell into, there was little denying the fact that Mohawke’s take on dubstep was something quite spectacular and something to behold of. Returning for a much shorter, much more focused release in Satin Panthers, Mohawke’s presence is in full command.
Like some kind of sparkling stars that are fluttering in the sky, the booming sound of Mohawke’s bass has a way of charging through. It’s almost like the darkening clouds as they ascend to immerse both the moon and stars in one enveloping swoop. On “Octan”’s climactic, expansive introduction everything seems surely possible in Mohawke’s dreamy escapade. It all ends as it begun with the same sparkling synthesizer in fluid repetition. So it’s abruptly tension-ridden that the next song, “Thunder Bay,” is exactly as it depicts, flashing rays of light that are striking from above. The immersing sounds always bounce off each other – where jagged beats and rhythms clash against each other – the beats on Mohawke’s compositions remain booming and loud. “Cbat” bumps from side to side, acting as a cool middle-section, instrumental escape and “Thank You” takes the role of the album’s closer: rapidly-infused and flourishingly lush.
Before getting more imagery-driven, it goes without saying that the atmospherics on Satin Panthers are swarming, vast expansions that crystallize above the skyline. In terms of what dubstep has to offer, Mohawke’s brand of electronic music seems more indebted to drum n’ bass statutes that rely on strong, resonating beats and stomping, almost relentless, amounts of echo for extra coating. There isn’t anything as shiningly lush as “Gluetooth,” or nearly that decorated for that matter and definitely nothing as 80s-influenced and bumpy as “Just Decided.” Instead, Mohawke rides a current flow throughout, one that follows in a linear path from song to song. Reaching “All Your Love” is a transition that couldn’t be more perfectly aligned and nurturing the theme that he’s constructed, Mohawke delivers the EP’s finest melody. But instead of allowing everything to back off, the beats come frantic and purposeful in the kind of manner that shows strong progress.
I think for many the sheer diversity of Butter really was too much to handle: by the time you reached “Black n Red”’s melodically-rich keyboards the album’s overall scope had taken completely over. I think it was safe to say that while it was affluent and decorative, Mohawke was flashing true potential in one of the better electronic albums of 2009. The way Satin Panthers comes at you is definitely much more abbreviated and more focused; whether or not this is due only to the shortness of the EP is quickly dispelled with how well the five songs do ebb and flow. And while there isn’t anything monumentally grand to take hold of Mohawke has provided strong support to the potential he flashed two years ago.