By Joe Bates
If there was anything that defines Glasgow-based label Lucky Me, it’s the wedding of bass music to more commercial chart fodder. From Jacques Greene’s emotive R&B vocals giving his tracks shape to Rustie’s hyper-appropriation of synthesised pop trends, the music it provides a platform to owes as many debts to hip hop, pop and R&B as it does to any genre of club music. Out of the three, hip hop is the one which Hudson Mohawke and, especially, Lunice have gravitated towards in the past, so their coming together as TNGHT with this 5 track EP isn’t especially unusual. Their individual productions are influenced by the simplicity and brashness of some of the more low-fi hip hop production, so you’d expect the duo to gel well over these shared starting points.
The slightly unexpected thing is just how brilliantly the collaboration works in practice, even better than it does on paper. Hudson Mohawke brings his sugary synth lines and Lunice brings a leaner, less cluttered approach to making beats, and the end result is five incredibly fun tracks, easily up there with the best tracks either artist has produced. The woozy, crunky ‘Goooo’ represents everything this collaboration does well – production trademarks and tricks from both collaborators framed by very basic but bracing drums and bass which make it ready-made for a guest rapper, if not exactly crying out for one. ‘Higher Ground’ is similar, and even simpler, to the point of being almost comically basic. A brief trumpet riff is repeated, channelling a more stripped-back Lex Luger, and the looped vocal sample buries its way into your mind as various computerised drum rolls and rough samples are loaded on top.
All five tracks follow this similar pattern, and all are great fun. It is trap/crunk hip hop throughout rather than being an affectionate pastiche of it (anything this EP shares in common with UK bass music is something that all low-fi hip hop shares with it, rather than something TNGHT are innovating). What makes it such a good take on the genre is the individuality of the two producers, both offering so much in and around the heavy drums and bass that every track is littered with intricate details and structures that belie their initial simplicity.
Have I said words like ‘simplicity’ and ‘basic’ enough yet? It is definitely these things – a rough and ready, very short EP that is most notable for its crashing drums and bass that is never far from the distorted edge of its range. But it definitely works and is tremendous fun throughout. Though the productions apparently will eventually have rappers over them, the tracks have a complexity, an unwillingness to settle into obvious verse/chorus structures, that make them very much worthy in their own right. For a brief introduction, TNGHT does everything it should, offering great material in its own right and also being a tantalising glimpse of what the duo could produce in the future.