Robert Hood is back, devoid of the gospel chops that have defined his sound over the past five years. 'Paradym Shift' is a raw return to the claustrophobic rhythms of his ‘Minimal Nation’ album; the techno textbook for those wanting to understand the genre.
This is his first album under his own name since 2012. But that’s not to say he has been lying idle. Robert Hood is by far the most prolific of the early Detroit pioneers. He has spent the last five years producing under various aliases and this album comes as the final part of a series of EPs on Amsterdam’s Dekmantel label.
Last year he released ‘Victorious’ under his Floorplan alias — with the help of his teenage daughter, Lyric. On that LP was ‘Tell You No Lie’, a timeless track that sounded like it had been locked in a time capsule, unheard, since the early days of Chicago gospel and house. Similarly, on 2013’s ‘Paradise’, Hood produced another classic-to-be in the form of ‘Never Grow Old’. That album was also pure gospel, replete with praying, preaching and gorgeous cascading choral parts. Both albums won him a legion of new fans. But still, many of Hood’s long-standing followers have yearned for a return to the sound that Hood pioneered. Now, with the release of the 'Paradym Shift' LP, they have a whole album to indulge in.
“I want to get back to the simple repetitive programming that I’m known for, and to me it was returning to that and shifting the listeners’ focus,” said Hood of his intentions regarding the album. For the most part, Hood has achieved both these things. Clearly, the album is a return to the repetitive programming of his earliest music. However, it is not simple music. Take ‘Pattern 8’, which churns as Hood’s synth pads do their best to replicate the sounds of airplanes taking off. Made up of only a handful of components, the way in which they twist and shift around one another leaves the listener mesmerised. ‘Lockers’, from the first 'Paradym Shift' EP, reappears on the album in the guise of an extended album mix that stretches the track’s sinister, bubbling melody across six minutes and multiple variations.
Robert Hood's second stated aim is to shift the focus of his listeners towards more minimal sounds. If those who enjoyed his recent work as Floorplan do indeed listen to, and enjoy, this album, then he will have succeeded. This seems likely: 'Paradym Shift' is not a difficult listen, despite it being labelled as minimal techno. It is far more accessible and melodic than the contemporary British techno sound of Blawan or Dense & Pika. Even stripped of the gospel elements present in his recent work, Hood's productions retain a sense of colour, whether that be from swung rhythms or bursts of melody.
New listeners may find these tracks to be the perfect entry point for Hood's earlier work. Returning fans will see them as an enjoyable excursion into the developing mind of a pioneer.
Words: Alex Green
- - -
- - -
For tickets to the latest Robert Hood shows click HERE.