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Hot Sugar – Moon Money (Review)

Hot Sugar, Moon Money

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

NEW York City’s Nick Koenig, aka Hot Sugar, is one of the more unconventional artists on the NIinja Tune label – yet also another of its more interesting.

Armed with snares made from human bones, kicks fashioned from an ultra-amplified rat’s heartbeat and melodies from the breathing of an 86-year-old man covered head to toe in tattoos, Koenig crafts them into some fascinating electronic sound-scapes.

There’s a darkness, too, that is intriguing, whether it’s derived from the names of each track – There’s A Man Waiting At The Bottom Of The Stairs to The Kid Who Drowned At Summer Camp – almost as though he’s concocting a soundtrack to a [Japanese] horror film played out in the mind.

Yet throughout, there remains a keen ear for melody, so that few could actually dare guess the instruments that have helped go into the mix, or the troubling names of the some of the songs, if they were just to listen cold. Indeed, the music Hot Sugar creates is often sweet and hip enough to occupy the backdrop to a swish New York bar or nightclub.

The highlights on Moon Money are many and varied. There’s A Man Waiting At The Bottom of The Stairs, for instance, unfolds amid a soaring melancholy that’s instantly addictive, and very cinematic, while there’s a bittersweet innocence about The Girl Who Stole My Tamogatchi that’s strangely disarming. It’s also an excellent example of how Koenig can change styles from slick and hip to poignant and slow-burning.

This is evidenced again on #Mindcontrol, an ode to lunacy of sorts, that begins as a series of blips and finger-click beats before suddenly hitting you with a funky dance beat that’s genuinely crowd-pleasing… and then returning to the sort of fractured, all over the place approach that its name suggests.

There’s a breezy pop sound linked to 0_0, a quasi-‘80s electronic vibe on Coconut Powder (that could almost have sprung from Harold Faltemeyer’s keyboards) and genuine darkness married to funkiness surrounding The Choking Game.

Addictions, meanwhile, brings the album to a close on an oddly playful note, the bright melodies under-pinning it almost stifled [deliberately] by the beats, as if to juxtapose the feelings of high associated with substance fixation with the horror that you’re actually addicted.

It’s these wonderful contrasts throughout that still further position this particular album as one to, ahem, get addicted to.

Download picks: There’s A Man Waiting At The Bottom Of The Stairs, The Girl Who Stole My Tamogatchi, The Choking Game, Addictions

Track listing:

  1. There’s A Man Waiting At The Bottom of The Stairs
  2. The Kid Who Drowned At Summer Camp
  3. Mindcontrol
  4. Everybody’s Parents Will Die
  5. The Girl Who Stole My Tamogatchi
  6. 0_0
  7. Coconut Powder
  8. The Choking Game
  9. Addictions