Robert Hood :: Motor: Nighttime World 3 (Music Man)

As EDM fever reigns supreme and vast festivals bang out maximal dance insanity—a true innovator of American electronic music quietly releases some of his best material yet and proves there’s still some proper soul left in the system.

Robert Hood ‘Motor: Nighttime World 3’

[Release page] There’s an incredible stat within the press release accompanying this CD: ‘40% of the land in the center of Detroit is returning to prairie.’ I’ve yet to make a techno pilgrimage but the excellent book The Ruins of Detroit has provided me with plenty photographic evidence of a post-industrial decay that’s seen this city lose 25% of its population in the last decade.

I also recommend watching Julien Temple’s Requiem for Detroit—a documentary that’s inspired this latest release from Hood. The film is a ‘darkly cautionary tale for the industrialized world’ describing a city wrestling with depression from over reliance on a now collapsed car industry through to positive signs of growth and a re-birth. Yes, yes—so this is a concept album but don’t let that put you off as Hood has woven these themes into a proper sci-fi opus—coalescing the best parts of that Detroit sound across a depth of night narrative strewn with multiple techno reference points.

Tracks like “Motor City” and “Hate Transmissions” are laced with typical Michigan machine funk – 303’s worm around your cerebellum whilst hanging strings and the low end weight of the 808 propel things forward. Sleek shiny production glitters throughout—a far cry from Hood’s brutal minimalism or Underground Resistance speaker battering work.

Things really get into their element the more abstract the track with “Better Life” juxtaposing slouchy electronic precision against piano jazz and sprightly arps whilst “Slow Motion Katrina” pitches melancholic muzak against manic pitch bent synths. “Black Technician” is pretty much DEEETROIT all over—it’s got the lot: Cascades of strings, oddly obtuse yet accessible melodies, much tinkering with sub 100hz on the kick, and the authoritarian stamping of clattering mechanoid percussion throughout. Following this, “Learning” takes the use of strings in techno to a whole new level whilst “Torque One” throbs and pulses with a finely defined 5am shimmer. “Assembly” and “Time to Rebuild” conclude things with distant sounds of industrial activities and a reverse vocal sample which I nerdily flipped around in Ableton finding it to say ‘Never say never’. Surely an intentionally subliminal message that hidden amongst the historical audio clatter of this once great city, positivity and a brighter future still lurk.

As EDM fever reigns supreme and vast festivals bang out maximal dance insanity—a true innovator of American electronic music quietly releases some of his best material yet and proves there’s still some proper soul left in the system.

A thoroughly excellent and rewarding listen.

Motor: Nighttime World 3 is available on Music Man. [Release page]

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