When many think of Lunice and Hudson Mohawke’s project TNGHT, they like think of the era-defining tracks like “Higher Ground,” “Goooo” or “Bugg’n.” The pair emerged exactly at the right time with the EDM boom in full force and their music helped to fuel the push towards the rise of trap music. Seven years later, the UK and American scene has evolved dramatically away from the main stage excesses (it still exists) to house, techno and bass music. TNGHT have been a big part of that evolution, and individually they have working with some of the biggest rappers in the land like Kanye West or Banks. That change is reflected in their new EP II out today.
There have been rumors for a long time of the return of TNGHT. They abruptly dissolved the project in 2013 and then every post or statement was dissected in the context of a potential TNGHT reunion. In September, they decided to make it official and release their first song in six years “Serpent.” That was followed by an Essential Mix, teasing much of II that was announced a few weeks later.
The difference in direction could have been forecasted, but they let you know right off the bat. “Serpent” coils around itself like its namesake, created a tangled web of bass and percussion. The entire project hints at hip-hop production, the roots of instrumental trap music, but “Dollaz” goes as far into hip-hop as they do on this record. A repeating rap refrain “Dollaz” provides the little extra energy in the hook.
Things switch up to modern pop on the bubbling dancehall record “First Body” that still feels authentically Lunice and Hud Mo. Club-ready energy is channeled on “Club Finger” with its heavily processed synths, video game sounds and fx. Things get toned down a little bit with “What Is It” glued together by an autotuned woman’s voice carrying a playful melody and strong drums. After the quirky “I’m In A Hole” that feels cavernous with spacey synths and distant drums, they cap off the project with the experimental “Gimme Summn” with its glitchy synths and slow booming bass.
The festival sized bombast is gone, but powerful bass and well-crafted melodies are still there. The pieces fit together just as well, but they are different pieces. This feels like artists making music for themselves rather than some festival stage, though these would still work well live. TNGHT are back and pushing something different on their fans. As the scene has shifted so have their fans and this should still have the same impact.