As anyone aware of Hudson Mohawke's activities between the release dates of Butter and Lantern could attest, the Glaswegian producer did not spend those six intervening years on the margins. Following Butter, his 2009 debut album, Mohawke magnified his profile with dozens of co-productions and remixes. Most noticeably, he contributed to Kanye West's "Mercy," "I Am a God," and "Blood on the Leaves," three of the most progressive tracks in early-2010s aboveground music. Drake and Björk are also among the long list of artists who sought him. Mohawke issued EPs of his own, as well as one with Lunice, as TNGHT, that took on a life of its own with lean but outsized and rowdy instrumentals. While Butter could be described as whimsical, it's as uniform as a prog epic compared to Lantern, a relatively disjointed assembly of tracks seemingly drawn from working folders labeled like "athletic anthems," "theatrical intros and interludes," "almost pop," "space ballads," and "misc." The assortment of vocalists, both original and sampled -- there is a boys' choir and scores of trilling chipmunk-like sounds, but no rappers -- adds to the album's scattered quality. "Warriors," featuring Ruckazoid and Devaeux, is a defiant/triumphant anthem angling for a licensing deal with a sports network. On the stomping and wistful "Very First Breath," the voice of Irfane is made to resemble that of a miniaturized Justin Timberlake. A pitched-up sample of unjustly obscure soul man DJ Rogers and the Stanley Lee Ensemble are laid atop a bucking and swirling backdrop for "Ryderz," a stampede theme. While Mohawke's bombast predilection makes him a natural match for shouters, he goes against that with Jhené Aiko and Miguel, two R&B vocalists known more for sensitive and shadowy sounds, on a pair of heavily emotive ballads that cover affairs of the heart. Considering all the restless energy and wild swings from sound to sound, it's no surprise that two of the album's least restrained tracks -- one a surefire dancefloor emptier, the other a finale that's part fist-pumping mid-'80s action sequence, part hard-fought modern video game ending -- are reserved for the end.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman