Ernest Hood - Back to the Woodlands Music Album Reviews

Ernest Hood - Back to the Woodlands Music Album Reviews
Where his 1975 album Neighborhoods was rooted in the sounds of community, these previously unreleased archival recordings capture the Oregon wilderness in synths, zither, and field recordings.

In an endless sea of reissues from the world of early ambient music, Ernest Hood’s Neighborhoods remains a beacon of light shining through the fog. Layered with field recordings of children running and playing, the 1975 curio has a warm, friendly air; where other electronic music of the era often sought transcendence in the stars or on the spiritual plane, Ernest Hood found it at the candy shop down the street. Confined to a wheelchair after being stricken with polio in his late twenties, Hood turned to sound as his connection to the world, mixing stray recordings from around his home in Portland with lush zither and synthesizer compositions, creating a woozy and nostalgic ode to community in the process. Much as Brian Wilson imagined Smile as a “teenage symphony to God,” Neighborhoods found a flicker of the divine in the buzz of a bustling playground.

Unlike Neighborhoods, which had been known to collectors for years prior to its 2019 reissue, Back to the Woodlands gathers unheard material. Recorded between 1972 and 1982 in what the notes identify only as “Western Oregon,” the music on Back to the Woodlands is clearly cut from the same cloth, but the pigmentation is different: Gone are the snatched bits of idle conversation that gave Neighborhoods its surreal sense of small-town charm. The synthesizers have yielded to a more acoustic palette that summons the tranquility of Oregon’s majestic wilds. It may not reach quite the same level of eccentric whimsy as its predecessor, but its soft patchwork of sounds also means it’s the easier listen of the two.

The Oregon Coast is home to some of the most stunning landscapes in the United States, and Hood captures its mystery with his fairy-tale zithers and babbling brook field recordings. On “Dusk,” his synthesizers hang in the air like the fog rolling into Astoria, tense blocks of notes floating in a strangely eerie calm. “Into the Groves” spills over with all the radiance of a mossy waterfall, as Hood plays dizzying arpeggios that slowly dissolve into shimmering sweeps across the strings. The real delights are when Hood taps directly into the feeling of being a young child wandering through the forest. In “Pleasant, This Garden,” he tiptoes along a plucked pattern reminiscent of a slowed-down Django Reinhardt swing—one of his original musical obsessions. “Bedroom of the Absent Child,” meanwhile, sways upon golden fingerpicked chords, its gentle melody winding up and down like a music box, each tinny note just barely tumbling out one at a time.

There’s a samey tone to some of the stretches throughout Back to the Woodlands, making the moments where Hood breaks from his swooning ambience to venture into playful new territory feel all the more vital. With its jazzy flutes, “The Jantzen Rag (Raccoons)” has all the mischievous innocence of a Vince Guaraldi waltz, while the hammering synth notes of “Fragrant Duff” spring forth like butterflies flapping their wings over a field of flowers. But even in its tamer segments, Back to the Woodlands offers a rich new perspective on Hood’s wondrous world. Where Neighborhoods elicited the reassuring feeling of living in a community where everyone knows your name, Back to the Woodlands accesses a more primitive, elemental sense of magic. 
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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.
Ernest Hood - Back to the Woodlands Music Album Reviews Ernest Hood - Back to the Woodlands Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on December 13, 2022 Rating: 5


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