Robert Hood – Motor: Nighttime World 3

Robert Hood has always maintained a fiercely independent approach to his music experimenting with a wide range of sounds and influences making him something of a hero. Motor: Nighttime World 3 is no exception to Hood’s reputation or stance and he continues working where the previous two releases in this series left off.

This is a lean lean album, the opener ‘Exodus’ is light and immediately puts you back into Hood’s work mid res. Hood has lent further towards experimenting with sounds and textures on this album as Exodus demonstrates in it’s deep composition and meticulous layering. Exodus is good, but ‘Motor City’ that follows has a tight, moody groove that falls through different modulations while over the top Hood brushes a wide range of synth waves and sounds that could fit onto a dub record; yet Hood knows when to draw these sound down into the mix and bring the bass and underlying beat to the forefront. The bass on this album is always there, its almost the classic ‘bass’ mantra you get taught in school that the best bass you don’t notice (I’m a Mike Watt fan so I 99% of the time disagree with that notion but here it fits).

There are a couple of epic tracks on here, ‘Black Technician’ and later ‘Hate Transmissions’ are both gems in the proverbial crown for this record. First ‘Black Technician’ is mechanical and minimal but brings in a plethora of different movement, phrasing and instruments ranging from orchestral strings to even a xylophone in places, it glides by gradually, steadily. Hood’s industrial influence also comes out much more on this track.

A track like ‘Black Technician’ is hard to follow which is why the follower: ‘Learning’ requires attention because it is a total change in direction from the previous track. ‘Learning’ opens with a dystopian string arrangement with the sporadic brittle drum hit in the background – almost Blade Runner style, but then this low, warm bass and beat fall in countering the spacious strings with dense, opaque percussion. It is through ‘Learning’ that I pay attention to the automotive theme of this record, of which ‘Drive’ is no exception. ‘Drive’ is a great track with a undulating melodic beat that develops into a strong tribute to Kraftwerk. Throughout the mid to latter tracks the attention to textures and solid beat foundations don’t shift – one of the strong points of this record is its consistency, it never lets up. ‘Torque One’  is perhaps less experimental than some of the previous tracks with an almost funky-house sounding to it, there is a range of tonal colours here and this helps to make this an engaging song with tactile beats and low pitched but nevertheless bright chords.

But, as Hood did previously, the following long track ‘Hate Transmission’ moves swiftly away from any brightness with an intense, brooding and murky beat and twisting, dark, distinctly digital melodies. This is probably my favourite track on the whole record because its so atmospheric – finished by the occasional terrified scream. I love how the beats and melody roll through modulation after modulation sometime creaking, sometimes brittle and delicate. The brittle snare drum hits slowly bring up the tension in this track alongside some string arrangements. It’s a captivating piece of work, listening to it through headphones actually draws out the artistry that has taken place in building it.

Slow Motion Katrina has a sultry, dense, permeating bass line with taught Eastern-influenced guitar work over the top. It seethes   This again is a great example of Hood’s experimental pallet, there is a xylophone and piano featuring throughout this track playing up and down scales and just noodling around held together with a hypnotic bass line.

The final track on here is ‘A Time to Rebuild’ which has an infectious groove and falls closest to Detroit Techno as I know it. Its a good way to end a wide ranging, expansive album.

As for negatives, there were a few tracks I didn’t like as much ‘Better Life’ has a piano melody that I just couldn’t get along with and ‘The Wheel’ and ‘Assembly’ were slightly unremarkable, still a good listen, but just a little less exciting than the other music here. 

I was really surprised by how much I liked this, it was going to be a strong release but it is a captivating album, danceable but complex.

Motor: Nighttime World 3 came out on Music Man on September 25th.

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