by SashaS

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  More on: Hood

Outside Closer
  Album Review - 18-1-2005
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  Album Review - 3-11-2004
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  Album Review - 7-7-2003
Hood can cause fundamental changes...
Outpost Hoodini
Hood on a mission to liberate inner deviancy

The question is not new, it’s been around since Billy Fury but needs to be reiterated: why good British bands remain prized underground asset whilst inferior American ones are fated? It is a conundrum not even Jordan or Bill Gates can figure out! Hood is a fine example of the great British inventiveness, ace purveyers of off-beat and esoteric sounds found on the current album ‘Outside Closer’, full of anti-formulaic tracks for on eclectic journey The Coral can only dream of taking.

The Leeds (formerly Wetherby) based Hood were formed in December 1990 with a legacy of 9 albums and 7 singles, so far. The band tours occasionally, recently playing two shows in London on their short UK jaunt. We caught up with the founder (alongside bro Richard) and vocalist Chris Adams as they were hanging around for the second, an intimate, instore show in East London’s Smallfish record shoppe.

Considering that you play a limited number of shows per year [roughly 20], do you rehearse intensely? And, how nervy do you get before the opening date?

“We get very apprehensive, we really get jittery. We really want to do studio work and then it suddenly comes to us that we should try and do this live… That is difficult for us because we never write music with the intention of playing it live. We try to represent music, that’s taken us months to record, in 45 minutes. Our rehearsals are mainly about figuring out how to translate studio work…”

“And we are still figuring out how we want our live show to be… Added problem is that we tour with five musicians and that limits us… So, we can’t do the tracks we’d like to and end up doing tracks that work live but are not necessarily our first choice. Also, we’ve certainly covered a lot of ground: our early records were sounding really underground because we had primitive technology and have progressed over the period time.”

Wild are the tunes

Chris is a somewhat reluctant performer, a tad too introverted person who finds stage work a delicate operation. Well, we remark casually, if he had been doing 300 shows a year it would have become his second skin.

“Probably but we do as much live work as we reckon it is necessary because we want to get back to our studio and create music. Live work consists of repetition and can get boring; you don’t have that problem in a studio… It is different every moment.”

And when you finish another set of recordings, you realise - “We don’t fit, again!”

“I have to admit I’ve had very strong sense of apprehension with this album; the general notion was that we’d go further down the electronic path but you go with your instinct. If we’ve done something already, then there is no excitement of going back and doing it again. We have to explore, shift… I think the band will stop when we feel we don’t move forward, shift in a different direction anymore.”

“Another element is that although we are amazed with the technological progress it all ends up sounding samey. And, there is a lot of constraints put on music by placing a band or an artist in a scene…”

Sonic escapology

Hood’s interest in music is of almanac-proportions, without margins and appearing as open as an American blacktop… You ride on a Harley into a sun-setting distance as if haven is under the streetlights of Las Vegas… Or, just another Fata Morgana? ‘Outside Closer’ is earnest, it is imaginative, it is dreamy, it is stonery, electro and ambient… Is there is spirit left in the machine?

“I have my concerns about the industry right now and it seems that bands have to have singles nowadays, it is like being back in the 1960s… But, it is different because of downloading and I’m excited about it because I get to hear a lot of things I wouldn’t otherwise.”

“But, if things shift toward label demanding one or two songs [aimed at Download-devotees], which is possible due to the shortening attention span… You know, in the past you used to tape an album for a friend and if he re-taped it then the quality dropped but now - you get the same high quality via your computer! All this changes will affect music as well because when you program your iPod you tend to compare yourself to other artists.”

“We had to fight it off because our music is what we are doing and not flipping through tracks by other artists. That’s gonna be a problem as well, catching listener’s attention in the shortest possible time, before the forward-button gets hit! I’m really wondering how it is all going to end up.”

If USA are testing what we’ll experience in short while then Hood will step back to the future with a three-week tour later this month. After that they’ll be taking it easy… around their studio.

A short trip into archive: Hood’s albums are very varied and not a sole album provides appropriate impression of their sound diversity. Still, certain periods can be detected, all arbitrarily tagged.

Indie/fore - Lo-fidelity avant-pop, lots of short to mid-length songs with wild, experimental production. Hints of Pavement, New Zealand bands and Aphex Twin can be detected: ‘Cabled Linear Traction’ (1994), 'Silent 88' (1996), 'Structured Disasters' (1996) is a compilation of singles and rare tracks.

Psycho-pastoral - Longer drawn out songs. pastoral, nearly instrumental. Often compared to Talk Talk, Bark Psychosis, Mogwai: ‘Rustic Houses, Forlorn Valleys’ (1997), ‘The Cycle of Days and Seasons’ (1999), both produced or co-produced by Matt Elliot of Third Eye Foundation.

'Cold Wave' - Shorter songs, much more electronic sounding, better production, still experimental but with more pop moments. 'Cold House' (2001) delves into Hip-hop territories and features Dose One and Why? from US rapper cLOUDDEAD. It is the most critically praised work and their most successful release, thus far. ‘Home Is Where It Hurts’ (2001) is a mini album.

Assemblages - A couple of round-ups of the band’s unavailable work were released in 2003 - simultaneously. 'Singles Compiled' is older, noisier, scratchy material and documents band’s development. 'Compilations 1995-2002' is the more settled collection although the music veers wildly it is more like a studio album. It shows off a lot of excellent 'Rustic/Cycle' era songs and it is a good introduction for the beginners.

Hood album ‘Outside Closer’ is available now on Domino