Upon the announcement of a new TNGHT release in late October, there was a sense of eager anticipation for the finished product II, which was made available on the 12th of November.
After more than 6 years of hiatus, Scottish producer Hudson Mohawke (notably of Kanye’s G.O.O.D Music label) reunited with Canadian producer and DJ Lunice for a follow-up to their 2012 self-titled EP. Despite this being their only record as a duo (with both artists exploring a variety of other solo ventures), the fusion of trap, bass and electronic sounds resulted in a raucous, forward thinking tracklist which made a significant splash upon initial release.
These combinations were a refreshingly playful take on the trap ‘banger’, with warped vocals and sticky melodies providing a more experimental edge to the bombastic speaker-knocking formula. Rap music has seen a turn towards the more riotous and audacious side of the spectrum. In the last 5 years pioneering contemporary electronic music has favoured bubbly and wonky aesthetics. The ideas presented by TNGHT’s first EP can be heard in a variety of artists from the likes of Injury Reserve to Iglooghost.
The opening track and lead single ‘Serpent’ illustrates this perfectly. Chopped vocal yelps bounce energetically over a skittering drum pattern and percussive melodic line, presenting the perfect balance between chaos and ear grabbing eccentricity. Other highlights include ‘Im In A Hole’ where airy and atmospheric synths lead to the introduction of a disjointed beat that injects the song with a ruthless intensity, and ‘Dollaz’ which sees the duo doing what they do best with vocal samples and an 808.
Apart from a few shining moments however, this release is not the triumphant reassertion of the groups style, with a musical landscape which seems much less suited to it than it did in 2012. One of the main failings throughout this EP is the consistent structural weakness of several tracks. While some songs may present an interesting idea or sound, they lack the gradual build towards a climactic finale which made their earlier material so satisfying.
The closing track ‘First Body’ is an example of this anti-climax. It has a somewhat anthemic lead melody line over a downtempo beat with lots of swing, but it feels as if this song is simply going through the motions without much in the way of meaningful or impactful structural development.
In other cases TNGHT’s typical bombast verges on obnoxious annoyance, namely in ‘Club Finger’ where an infuriatingly repetitive synth line and equally simplistic drum pattern burn a hole in your brain for around 3 minutes. While clearly the most boisterous song in the tracklist, it fails to channel this energy into anything other than an irritating mess.
This isn’t a bad release, and it is great to have new music from these two producers who stay within their own lane and still manage to keep it fresh. However, II does not have quite the same level of playful intensity which made their debut EP so exciting.
An inconsistent track list and some lacklustre structural elements weigh down this otherwise solid release. If you are keen for some interesting genre fusions, head-rattling beats or just want to hear TNGHT back on the boards after over 6 years then definitely check II out.