In creating his concept album about 2015, Nick Hook may have given us the best album of 2016. 'Relationships' was the term that the multi-instrumentalist, producer, dj, and all around impresario chose to describe the year gone by. 'Can't Tell Me Nothing' featuring Novelist is the first single to be released from the record. The irreverent confidence that song imparts upon the listener is a perfect introduction for a project that fearlessly explores so many sounds of modern music, all with a powerful timeless quality.
'Relationships' includes an unbelievable list of special guests, one that no other artist could assemble, nor make sound right at home following one another. '+3' kicks off the record with DJ Rashad, DJ Paypal, and Nasty Nigel who is on a few tracks. It begins with a recording of a phone call planning a night of adventure and debauchery and ends poignantly with the line 'you never know how long your boys are around...' and for the first time on the album you feel the sense of balance that makes this one of the most well rounded albums you'll find in the new release section.
'Pro Choice' follows, and 'Gucci's' comes after that, two brilliant examples of Nick Hook's ability to create club music of a variety of styles. He's always drawing from such a wide array of influences that the results are one of a kind, but with a bit of familiarity found in those nuances. 'Another Way' features the unimitable voice of Spank Rock, and on a song that is more poignant and inspiring than we've come to expect from a lyricist who's often leaned towards the lewd and outrageous.
The interlude 'Forever' follows, a reminder of the unique structure of the album. It allows the tracks to stand out when played on their own, and creates a dynamic and unpredictable experience when played from front to back. 'Dive For You' features the vocals of Junglepussy and includes one of the most legendary guests on the album; Prefuse 73. 'Can't Tell Me Nothing' lands right in the middle of the record and it's intensity is followed by the longing and love found in iLoveMakonnen's lyrics on 'All Alone'.
The song 'Bhu Hum' with Damien Hagglund begins as if it's a meditation and evolves into one of the most booming productions we've heard in some time. Meyhem Lauren takes the microphone on 'Live While I'm Livin' ft. Super Hero Killer. 'Head' leans back into the debaucherous side of the record, before 'Relationships' mellows out a bit thanks to the Nasty Nigel sung cover of 'Lovesong' by the Cure. It's the perfect precursor to one of the most beautiful pieces of music we've heard in a long time: 'The Infinite Loop' features Nasty Nigel on vocals, along with Chino Moreno of the Deftones, and much like the album's opener the footwork legend DJ Rashad.
The album opens and closes with guest appearances by DJ Rashad. It features a seemingly endless list of incredible special guests, and it's simple to understand when you hear it that the relationships are not only what made this possible, but what makes it powerful.
That list of special guests is a testament to what Nick Hook means to the world of music, and how many artists are blessed to know him. The first time I heard 'Evilisontherise' it brought back memories of seeing Hudson Mohawke perform in Detroit with an energetic yet devious Nick Hook on the mic winding up the crowd and crowdsurfing in what I now consider one of the best dj sets I've ever seen.
'The Infinite Loop' has conjured memories of a late night Mega Bus journey into New York City.
This record is unbelievable as a collection of songs, but in it's inherent ability to remind us to love and appreciate those relationships we have, no matter how challenging, it is an absolute masterpiece.