EPs are often slight works, but they can be proving grounds for new sounds and experiments that yield fruitful results on later works. The latest from British producer Ross Birchard, aka Hudson Mohawke, is that sort of EP. At a little more than 15 minutes in length, Satin Panthers tries a lot of things—grimy beats, vocal samples, brass synths, chippy bleeps, staggered percussion—with mixed, though never uninteresting results. Of the five tracks on the EP, only “All Your Love” and “Thunder Bay” qualify as complete successes, but overall Satin Panthers is an intriguing work.
“Thunder Bay” specializes in bold, brash synths with little room for anything else. It’s the closest this EP gets to transcendent, as the guttural vocal-samples-as-percussion and forceful synths coalesce into something pretty fun to listen to. “All Your Love” is awash in synths and pitch-shifted vocal samples, and sounds kind of like those old Gran Turismo game soundtracks with more percussion. The vocal sample gives a joyous atmosphere to the proceedings, and it’s one of the few times on the EP that it feels alive.
Other tracks are not as euphoric. “Cbat” has a loping groove that it settles into, but is unfortunately dependent on a dirge-like melodic line that begins to grate quite quickly. “Octan” is all build-up, which is fine if you like build-up.
Satin Panthers doesn’t contain the most organized or most complete 15 minutes of music in the world, but it’s an EP—it’s just frenzied enough to provide a taste for an album to come. It might not be vital in itself, but there are enough ideas to show that within the mind of Hudson Mohawke, there is much more where this came from.