Robert Hood will explore the Floorplan concept in a more expansive style on the forthcoming album Paradise.
Robert Hood is techno’s undisputed minimal master, but previous instalments of Nighttime World – especially the jazz-fuelled inaugural release in 1995 on Cheap – have afforded him the opportunity to go off script and indulge his conceptual whims. Will he do the same again on Motor: Nighttime World 3? The answer is a resounding yes. Inspired by Julien Temple’s 2010 documentary Requiem For Detroit?, which charts the fall and decline of America’s former car manufacturing hub, the album is full of references to the effects of man’s interaction with technology.
Get a grip on what to expect from the forthcoming Nighttime World 3 LP from Detroit producer Robert Hood with the full stream of the preceding single Torque One / Movement.
Is Robert Hood going through a reinvention process? Certainly on the evidence of his latest releases, the Detroit producer has moved away from his trademark, visceral minimalism. The recent Floorplan 12″ gave vent to his gospel influences and now this reissue of his 2001 release under his own name provides a reminder about Hood’s love of disco. There’s not much to the title track, yet this simplicity and clarity of sound is the same aesthetic that drove the original productions it is indebted to.
Over a rolling, housey groove, Hood adds in some sexy funk guitar, sprinkles it with sensuous strings and puts all of the ingredients into a filtered blender. Despite the use of filtering, it is to the Detroit producer’s credit that the track didn’t sound like the kind of cheap and nasty disco influences that swept through house and techno during the late 90s and early 00s. In fact, the arrangement retains the links to the crisp, punchiness of the 70s.
On “Dancer”, Hood’s approach is even more minimal and straightforward as a walking funk bass guitar is married to a series of claps. This combination runs the risk of sounding like a DFA release, but Hood isn’t finished. He adds sassy brass samples and a sexy female vocal, resulting in an arrangement that offers all of the sensuality of disco and the unflinching precision of his minimal techno productions. Call it a reinvention, a reassessment or Hood just reviving another golden moment from his rich catalogue, but Dancer offers an insight into another of this seminal producer’s influences.
It’s a sad but true fact that original pioneers of any art form often age badly, softening up as they engage less and less inquisitively with the world around them or, worse, get stuck treading the same water they did 15 years ago to much lesser effect. In light of him re-releasing super influential work Minimal Nation last year, then, you may wish to level that criticism at Robert Hood. But don’t, or at least not until you’ve checked Omega.
A concept album which aims to soundtrack the 1971 film The Omega Man which haunted Hood as a child, Omega is an edgy, anxious record which ably mirrors the dread filled world you may more likely recognise from the recent remake, I am Legend, starring Will Smith. Hood, then, is far from resting on his laurels, and instead is as embroiled as ever in his art.
From shadowy, glitchy depictions of being chased through a dark, derelict city (‘The Workers of Iniquity’) to paranoid, frenzied and disorientating cuts like ‘Saved by the Fire’ via the spaceship take-offs, broken beats and trademark snappy snares of ‘The Wheels of Escape’ or the eerie, suspended tension of recent single ‘Omega (End Times)’ you can’t help but get emotionally entangled in this album as it plays out. Be it anger, anticipation, optimism, remorse or whatever else you feel, you feel it alone: there’s an overriding sense of isolation to the headspaces you occupy, you’re senses are heightened and you’re alert to the every twitch and hiss Hood cares to scatter into the mix.
Of course, Omega must be digested whole for maximum effect. But equally, heads down techno hustles like the nervy ‘Think Fast’ beg to be played loud; in a pitch-black, sweaty club; somewhere free from distraction. Wherever you hear these dark, prophetic sounds, though, they never fail to monopolize your mind.
Review: Kristan J Caryl