Hood Outside Closer

[Domino; 2005]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: electronica, post-rock, art pop, indie rock
Others: Four Tet, Orang, Bark Psychosis, Mogwai

Most cutting-edge music in the UK in recent years has tended to be rooted in urban culture; folk and country styles tend to have less of an influence compared to our cross Atlantic cousins. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, such as the trailblazing work of Ultramarine in the early '90s and the more recent blend of organic sounds and electronics perfected by Kieren Hebden and Adem Ilhan of the band Fridge. Hood have been around since the beginning of the last decade, operating on the fringes and focusing on the great outdoors rather than associating themselves with fashionable inner city cliques. This is a band who are not interested in selling themselves, and therefore you may not have come across them before. Indeed, the music, as a rule, does not seek to grab your attention. There are not many tunes on here that the postman will be humming. Rather, the album is one of insidious beauty, brittle melodies, and fragile vocals weaving haunting patterns into your subconscious.

There is not an overtly electronic sound on the album; most of it has a live feel, although many of the instruments and often the vocals have been treated in some way. This contrasts with Hood's last album, Cold House, where electronics came to the fore, with Dose One and why? of cLOUDDEAD guesting on vocals. To my mind, the best (and most accessible) tracks on this album retain an electronic edge. "The Lost You" was the obvious choice for a single, complex instrumental lines interlacing cut-up electronic loops. The real standout though is "Any Hopeful Thoughts Arrive," an absolutely phenomenal track. At its foundation are two interweaving harmonic acoustic guitar lines driving the piece forward as any number of instruments including brass and violin come to the fore and then fade into the background again as the beat builds to a climax and a haunting, almost pop, vocal floats above it all. I defy anyone to hear this track and not be tempted to buy the album.

There is much beauty in this record, although it is melancholy in nature. The aforementioned "Any Hopeful Thoughts Arrive" features lines such as, "these could be the last words I ever say to you" and "there is a space between me and you." "The Lost You" contains the line "into the loneliness I dedicate this day"; the song "Still Rain Fell" exhorts "does no-one care?" The song titles themselves carry a sense of foreboding, such as "Closure" and "This Is It Forever." This is not a depressing album by any means though. It is beautifully crafted, complex music which intrigues and begs for another listen. Most of the tracks end with question marks rather than full stops; there are no quick fixes, which is what gives the album such enduring appeal. Hood may not come looking for you, but I strongly recommend that you seek out their elegiac symphonies, because this is essential music that is accessible to everyone.

1. (Int)
2. Negatives, The
3. Any Hopeful Thoughts Arrive
4. End Of The Train Working
5. Winter 72
6 Lost You, The
7. Still Rain Fell
8. L. Fading Hills
9. Closure
10. This Is It, Forever

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