Hopefully recuperating after having to cancel a tour down under due to health reasons, Hudson Mohawke, here, delivers a really rather excellent album – complex, at times brutal, but emotive at the same time.
Not always been a fan of Mr Mohawke’s work – too ostentatiously quirky, too many bells and whistles, too look at me and needy: not so here; far more cohesive and, using his never in doubt studio abilities, seemingly aiming to please rather than impress.
Ded Sec has been put together to soundtrack the game Watch Dogs 2 – an of the moment universe with hacking, mind control and whatnot; definitely one for the Anonymous brigade.
Whatever one thinks about that mob, we can at least thank their existence for coughing up this record.
What is immediately apparent is how fluid Dead Sec is – perhaps a consequence of being part of the game, the alternate world: there are threads running through all 16 instrumental tracks: sometimes quasi-militaristic such as on opener ‘Shanghaied’, sometimes ecstatic and sometimes downright dystopian and violent like the hefty ‘Burning Desire (Hacker)’.
It very much is another world, a world with its own aesthetic – in this case, provided by someone who, when shackled to a project like this, shines.
Speaking of which, there are some shiny beauties on here too – it’s not all gritty, grimy misery in the land of Watch Dogs 2: even with a vaguely Orwellian, all-seeing surveillance system keeping tabs on the virtual punters, there’s always room for a bit of jollity; the melody on ‘Amethyst’ may sound like it was knocked out on a Casio but it’s plaintively beautiful, if still slightly worrying nonetheless.
‘Robot (Finale)’ has a cosmically joyful sound – wherever this features in the game, it must surely be someone looking into the most gorgeous of sunsets… despite what may be lurking behind: even has a distinctly Ibiza – in the original sense – feel about it.
That said, the overwhelming vibe is definitely dystopian: rough beats, ominous basslines and rattling echoes.
For your reviewer, this is indeed far more satisfying than Ross Birchard’s (for it is he) forays into more overtly party-land realms, highly regarded though these have been.
All the elements from previous work are here but the brutality, coupled with the occasional stabs of gentle introspection – see the glistening highlight, ‘Eye For An Eye (Reprise)’ – just seem more complete.
Fine work, fine work indeed: a feeling of an artist realising his potential, to these ears at least.
Words: Vosne Malconsorts