Following in the footsteps of labelmate Flying Lotus (a.k.a Fly-Lo), Ross Birchard, the 25-year-old Scottish DJ who records as Hudson Mohawke (a.k.a. Hud-Mo), makes club music seemingly better suited for sci-fi films than for any dance floor we Earthlings are likely to get down on. He manipulates rubbery dubstep beats to mind-bending effect on the deceptively simple “C-Bat” and sends his synthesizers soaring through the roof on “Thank You”—only to give them the chop-and-screw treatment, forcing the synths to keep pace with a Major Lazer-styled drum break. All this, and a lot else that’s equally dizzying, takes place over the course of one 16-minute super-song, the purpose of which is to demonstrate the young DJ’s confident approach to leftfield dance-pop. His LP Butter was occasionally as rich as its namesake, but mostly vacillated between the cloying and the half-baked. On Satin Panthers, he’s more careful to avoid overplaying his hand, making his listeners beg for the big hooks and beats before giving them over.
“All Your Love,” the distended R&B banger that serves as Satin Panthers‘s climax, gives the best showcase for Mohawke’s style of bait-and-reward DJing. The track itself is the most instantly gratifying on the EP, with titanic drum-machine fills and dive-bombing synths landing squarely between The-Dream and RedOne’s production styles, but Mohawke nonetheless holds back on the vocal hook that would push the whole thing over into pure pop. Instead, his pitch-shifted R&B hook flits in and out of the track, materializing for a few seconds and then vanishing as house-style piano chords drop into the mix. Eventually Mohawke does bring the vocals back in, indulging us a solid 30 seconds or so of basking time, but the anticipation ends up being more fun than the payoff anyway. The rest of the EP is strictly instrumental, and it’s no less fun for it, whether Mohawke is serving up the type of gothic boom-bap that Young Jeezy might rap over on “Thunder Bay” or transitioning between tunes with explosions of (still mostly danceable) noise.