erhaps this was the template that Azure Ray was building their debut album from. On Hood’s Cold House a strain of tiny fissures between the rhythmic bases belie an experimental tinge to the brilliantly constructred folk melodies already present. It is the sound of a small subversion of a traditional format- acoustic guitar based songwriting- into a greater whole. After the departure of two of the core members of the group, Hood seemed headed for a plateau in quality. Any experiment regarding electronic music, at least, would probably be done by the Remote Viewer, the group built out of the two members who left the group. While the Remote Viewer took a route similar to many Morr Music artists, crafting pleasant, yet ultimately forgettable melodies; it was with great surprise that the remaining members of Hood also took on a more active role in turning the group’s sound towards electronic constructions. Whereas the Remote Viewer deals more in directly in melodic development, however, Hood uses electronics to embellish already thick compositions.
The first hint that change is afoot in Hood’s sound is the addition of Dose One and Why? on two of the first three tracks on the album. They turn in vaguely average, for them, lyrics to the album- but the mere fact that they are included on the album is a surprise and a welcome addition to the mix. Certainly they don’t offer a whole lot past what they do in cLOUDDEAD or their other projects, but that sort of offering is enough to pique the interest of listeners that wouldn’t normally listen to Hood.
On “The Winter Hit Hard” the group uses a crackling rhythmic backdrop that is reminiscent of numerous IDM acts to set the stage for a track that includes a long, drawn out crescendo. Dub elements begin to make their way forward as the song goes on, as echoes of the steel percussion used on the song reverberate numerous time in quick succession. All of these studio constructions are tempered by a strong structure built by a piano, guitar, and what sounds like a clarinet.
On the cheekily titled “This Is What We Do To Sell Out(s)” the rhythmic backdrop is entirely constructed through electronics. A stuttering click sets off an extremely quick beat that flutters along waiting for the singers vocals to catch up to the mix. A gently plucked acoustic guitar adds simple chords allowing for a great deal of experimentation in the beat and the voice. Coming out around the same time as Prefuse73’s debut record, it seems that the broken up voices motif is a genuine movement, at this point.
The last two songs of the album are the least exciting in terms of experimentation. Consequently they feel somewhat out of place on the record. It belies a simple fact, though, that such simple songs are regarded as the weakest tracks on this album. Hood has so completely gone past the easy construction of instrument upon instrument song structures that it’s a disappointment when they fall back on their past sound. In terms of originality, if a song on this record does not offer up some sort of production trick of interest, then it becomes somewhat of a failure, for this listener.
As a whole, however, the willingness to defy convention in terms of their status as an indie pop group, is a large step forward for the band. This is, quite possibly, one of the finest releases of last year, and certainly one of the most overlooked.