Hodge - Shadows in Blue Music Album Reviews

Nestling heavy-hitting cuts inside a protective ambient cushion, the Bristol producer’s debut builds on his dancefloor sensibilities while making good on his experimental tendencies.

Hodge’s signature is his drum programming. It pecks and prods, at once brutal and exacting, surgical and relentless in its staccato attack. Those drums instantly telegraph to dancers that they’re listening to a Hodge track. The Bristol musician, aka Jacob Martin, has applied that signature to all kinds of canvases in the past nine years. He has made fast tracks and slow ones; bludgeoning peak-time barnstormers and wobbly-legged sun-up jams; broken-beat syncopations and four-to-the-floor pulses.
While the bulk of Hodge’s output has appeared on labels like Livity Sound, Hemlock, and Punch Drunk—hubs for the dynamic, resolutely UK-rooted strain of 21st-century dance music that Hodge has grown up alongside—he has also turned up on European labels better known for house and techno. He’s collaborated with post-dubstep peers like Peverelist and Randomer but also maverick experimentalists like Laurel Halo and Fever Ray co-producer Peder Mannerfelt. No matter how recognizable his touch, Hodge might be one of the most versatile figures in contemporary UK club music. His debut album, Shadows in Blue, makes the most of that flexibility, building on his dancefloor sensibilities while making good on the experimental tendencies that have long lain just beneath the surface of his music.
This wouldn’t be a Hodge record without some certified bangers. A less ambitious producer could have packaged a handful of these tracks into one of heaviest EPs of the year. “Sense Inversion,” “Lanes,” and “Cutie” are all built around his unflinching use of force, with sternum-punching drum patterns forming a protective circle around sullen, slow-moving bass tones. His assault is so coordinated, with layered drum parts hammering away on multiple fronts, that you feel provoked, cornered, as in a fight-or-flight situation. But these are weirder and more graceful than your garden-variety industrial-techno stompers. Take “Cutie,” with its air-raid sirens firing over a tough, rolling beat: Halfway through, its synths thicken and congeal into unexpectedly beautiful melodic forms. The effect is part battering ram, part tearjerker. “Sense Inversion” is largely in keeping with Hodge’s percussive club style, but the beat quickly drops out, leaving ominous synth drones glistening like a patch of black ice; even at full swing, the tape-warped bells smeared atop the beat feel like an unstable fusion of Saturday-night floor-filler and 1950s Bell Labs patent application.

What makes Shadows in Blue so captivating—like a proper album, a notoriously tricky category for a dance producer to master—is the way these heavy-hitting cuts nestle inside a protective ambient cushion. Beginning with the avian chatter and Foley thunder sheets of the opening “Canopy Shy,” the record takes its time kicking into gear, and its exploratory passages are essential to the overall mood. “The World Is New Again,” the album’s first real song, boasts a big, ebullient riff—jagged, almost jaunty—that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Oneohtrix Point Never album. The song’s physically modeled sounds—plucked and hammered strings, vaguely Asian-sounding flutes, something that might be prepared piano—accentuate the uncanny valley between “real” and synthetic instruments, setting up the spongy terrain to come. “Sol,” with its resonant tympani and gaseous radar pings, sounds like Hodge’s bid for soundtrack work; it would be perfect for a submarine-hunt scene. And “Shadows in Blue” is the ideal mix of worlds: It so effortlessly layers classical-minimalist pulses with flutes and strings that by the time the beat finally drops, you had forgotten the very possibility of it turning into a club anthem. Even the glistening breakbeat trance of the climactic “Ghost of Akina (Rainbow Edition)” abides by this principle: It bangs and envelops in equal measure.

It’s a fine time for this kind of album. With clubbing on hold indefinitely, there’s little need for floor-filling DJ tools, even as dance-music fans pine for the energy of the club at its idealized best—as a space not just for socialization but also for experimentation, a place where musical forms might mutate on a weekly basis, thanks to artists’ keen ears and audacious productions. Entirely by coincidence, Hodge has turned up with an album of adventurous club music—as well suited for dreaming as raving—at exactly the right moment. Last week, Hodge made a plea that DJs, once the lockdown finally lifts, become more adventurous in their sets. With Shadows in Blue, he provides the material to do just that.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Hodge - Shadows in Blue Music Album Reviews Hodge - Shadows in Blue Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, May 06, 2020 Rating:

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