The Big Knock

The Big Knock

Modern song-and-dance man Mayer Hawthorne and hip-hop maestro 14KT, both from the lamented Motor City hip-hop crew Athletic Mic League, team up again here using old-school beatboxes, analog synths, and vintage textures. Early-’80s synth-poppers Our Daughter’s Wedding and Berlin would’ve fought hard over the jerky “Faded Photograph,” down to the electronic string break and Euro-nostalgic bent of the lyric. Buzzy electronics are strangely sexualized on the Kraftwerkian “Half Moon Bar OK.” “Cubicle” features a wonderful Bryan Ferry–ish croon atop percussive jabs and synths that lift to a party-sized chorus whose throwback warning (“Don’t lose your soul in a cubicle, oh!”) sounds remarkably up-to-the-minute. A brief pair of Eno-esque ambient pieces (“Sincerely Nemis” and “Sincerely Nester”) provide album rest stops. There’s also a Motor City heart that beats throughout: between sonic nods to Detroit ghetto-tech, the song “Monster” features a chilly, groove-centric J. Dilla beat, and the title tune is wistful of an era when techno trailblazers like Juan Atkins were influenced by Detroit disc jockey Electrifying Mojo.

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