Hugo Massien - Metamorphosis

  • Published
    6 Apr 2021
  • Words
    Sophie McNulty
  • Label
    EBEAMZ037
  • Released
    March 2021
  • Genres
    Techno · House · Club
  • The UK star combines dance floor know-how with glossy pop on an adventurous LP.
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  • Hugo Massien knows his way around dance floor bangers. "My earliest, pivotal memories were hearing really weighty dubstep at nights for the first time," he told Noisey back in 2016, after releasing Kontrol on XL Recordings. Plucked from a crop of British talent to release on the UK indie giant, Massien's sound has always had a crafty quality, helping to define the deep tech sub-genre by combining house with bassline and dubstep elements he loved in those early raving days. His best tracks are designed to tip the night over into peak-time, and across his discography you'll find examples of this all over the genre map. He's never restricted himself: across any of his EPs, he can pivot from headsy electro to bassline, or bleep techno to garage, with remarkable agility, sometimes even hatching a neat hybrid of them all. After learning Massien made an album, I wondered how his techy dance floor style work would translate to an extended format. The title Metamorphosis says a lot about what this album means: it shows Massien maturing, heading somewhere towards the middle of the road. From the off, Massien makes some headway in building a narrative. The garage-leaning opener "Chasing Shadows" tugs us in with swooping synths and an earnest vocal, and things take a moment or three to get going before he drops us into "Omnipotent Love Energy," a gutsy dubstep number teeming with teeth-tingling sub bass. The club banger factor continues on tracks like "Skin On Skin" and "Fast Lane," with their big breakbeats and wubby stabs. Massien wields rave appeal in one hand and a pop sensibility in the other. This glossy sheen gleams brightest on "Different People," a zippy Sonic The Hedgehog-style ride that is almost hyperpop, while "Matter Of Time" echoes Disclosure in its sway. Massien's songwriting proclivities come through best on "Space 2 Breathe," which has a warm R&B glow. Never one to shy away from vocals, Massien embraces them, even at the cheesier end of the spectrum. This is certainly true of the flourishes on "Unpowered Descent," which has a Jocelyn Brown ring to it—think 1985's "Love's Gonna Get You." Metamorphosis hits some of the spots that our dance floor-starved souls miss, though Massien pares down his multi-faceted knowledge of the club in favour of more accessible elements. There's certainly gems in here, but at 14 tracks in length, the momentum gets lost with filler like "Cosmological Horizon Entropy" and "Losing Sleep" in a slightly bloated midsection. This LP would say the same thing in a more precise way without those interludes, and in the end their inclusion makes things a little meandering. Metamorphosis, showcasing the wide variety of club sounds that made him famous, isn't the direct impact we've come to know from Massien—but it's not far off, either.
  • Tracklist
      01. Chasing Shadows 02. God Knows We Tried 03. If You Dare feat. Zum 04. Omnipotent Love Energy 05. Skin On Skin 06. Fast Lane 07. Different People 08. Cosmological Horizon Entropy 09. Losing Sleep 10. Matter Of Time 11. Space 2 Breathe 12. Outer Space Jam 13. Unpowered Descent 14. Beyond Completely Gone