It's been almost ten years since Chris Adams' band Hood played its last show and almost seven since his last solo mutterings under the Bracken moniker. This year's flash-released Downpour download-only comeback hinted that he might be about to get back in the game and this low-key release signals an intent to emerge slowly out of the shadows. Really, it would be a travesty to end all travesties (not prone to overstatement are we?) if Exist/resist didn't get heard by a wider audience. It's a superb document of his abilities as a producer and songwriter, with cherry-picked influences from all over the place -- from dubstep to oddball pop to experimental ambience. These won't be around long so you'll have to be mega quick.
Limited Vinyl LP £14.99 Further North 004
Limited heavy vinyl in thick heavy duty cardboard sleeve. Edition of 400 copies.
Limited Tape £8.99
Ultra-limited tape on Baro Recordings. aka Chris Adams from HOOD, first new material in 7 years! Second and final edition of 100..
TRY THESE INSTEAD?
YOUR RECENTLY VIEWED ITEMS
- Exist/Resist by Bracken
What do you do with the news that one of your favourite producers of the last two decades is suddenly releasing a cassette? In an edition of 100? After not doing remotely anything for seven years?
That's an itch requiring a serious scratch. But only 100 of us got the chance. When this same guy turned out to be one of the two spirited siblings who comprised the (still) hugely influential Hood, things got rather messy. This American import tape had been added to the site, hoovered up by the rabid Hood Mafia, and marked as "sold out" in the time it took me to examine the quality and build of the Leeds council's loo roll on a badly-timed toilet break.
Oh dear. So why is it our Album Of The Year? Why am I being commandeered to write an Album Of The Year review again? Basically, we loved it so much here at Auntie Norma that we couldn't bear the thought of all those people who'd gone out and bought turntables in the last couple of years (thinking they were missing out on some of the best music in the world) feeling cheated all over again by a mere cassette release. This fine album deserves vinyl.
So we bought the company...well, actually, we just asked the reclusive Chris Adams if we could bang it out for him. It's that good, it really is. He said yes by the way.
Nine tunes here, almost a mini album by today's standards but still knocking on at 40 minutes, so not that short. You hear the Adams lad reaching out into sonic realms that were only beginning to gestate in the minds of producers the last time he released anything. Early James Blake, Clams Casino and Tri Angle records are light touchstones. 'Presence (In Close Focus)' is a solid opener full of cosmic trepidation and mournful vocal smears. Some crispy beats and percussive flutters. 'Colour & Calm' follows, a sweet hesitant lullaby shrouded in slightly murky production, belying its sensitive pop nous. There are some gorgeous spiralling melodies half-concealed on this, with Chris's properly idiosyncratic voice popping up for the first time in all these years. Welcome tones indeed.
After a brief interlude an a-m-a-z-i-n-g song arrives. What song? 'We Put The Pop in Popular' has caused something of a storm amongst friends, family and fans over the past couple of months since it was unleashed. To say it's the most addictive tune this man has ever penned is an understatement. If this steadily evolving and mutating piece of ecstatic progressive pop doesn't float your boat, you've probably already drowned. It's actually too complex and interesting to write mere words about. Escalating into noisier territory towards its climax, you will just play it over and over in awe. I guarantee it. Even Hood never released anything this epic and remarkable.
'Awake Into Falling Light' is a fine stretch of warped, ambient sound-scapery: Eno meets The Caretaker maybe. After the sucker punch of our previous heavenly pop hit it is just perfect. 'No Sense of Place', coming straight after, carries a phat, dubby, glistening astral-pop basket on its head. There's vocal glossolalia gliding all over this spangled digitized lollop. It really doesn't sound like anyone else, and sounds bent out of shape in such a beautiful manner.
There are more curious, woozy, dubbed-out shenanigans on 'Grace Abstract Dying Sun' which contains a VERY familiar sample from a record rather a lot of people adore. I'd better not say anything further. Some fabulous old-skool drum break shredding on here too...murky ambience, wandering misty vocal snatches. Absolutely TONS going on, far too much for a casual listen. A meeting of several sonic worlds and possibly the second stone-cold stunning tune on here.
Right that's quite enough waffle. There are more great tracks, but I'll leave you to discover those yourselves. Even the lush ambient-techno track. I'll be grabbing myself a vinyl copy of this in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I'll have to wait patiently like the rest of you. Trust us, it'll be worth it.
Welcome back Chris Adams. We have really missed you, chap.
9/10 Manuel Customer review, 4th July 2016
I must confess that, at first, I didn't enjoy this record that much. The contrast with the previous "We Know About The Need" was a bit strong for me. I considered WKATN almost perfect, a balanced mixture of electronics, raw and organic sounds, with superb melodies. Exist/Resist leaned quite a lot on the electronic and "software" sounds, and I thought that something was lost. But, time righted this wrong, and my stubbornness in listen to the record on repeat helped to drift from these pre-conceptions and to reveal what a marvellous piece of art lies therein.
8/10 Toxteth O'Grady Customer review, 9th January 2015
The record at the top of the Norman Records best of 2014 chart, pressed and released by Norman Records? The Daily Express in me suggested a cynical stitch up, The Guardian a laudable effort to bring unavailable music to those interested. And I’m glad I was interested. Dreamy atmospheres, great beats and some big soundscapes – kick back and nod along. Did you go out to Back to Basics or The Arches or the 051 or (insert local city club name) in the early/mid-nineties? Do you remember when you got home at about 4am and put on some music and the music got more relaxed as time wore on? The last track on the album is the one that you would have wanted before The Orb went on and it all got too hazy.
Best album of 2014? Not for me but well worth a listen.
The sound quality on this record is excellent too, a great job has been done in getting this right - more of the same please Phil.
9/10 Mutley Customer review, 22nd December 2014
I'm not a great fan of experimental music for the sake of experimenting and was hoping that this recommendation would be different. I was genuinely relieved to find Exist/Resist is a thoroughly listenable album lifted way beyond simply experimenting with sound.
There's no point saying what I like or dislike as every listener will hold their own view but as a whole this album is intelligently crafted, gentle yet insistent, hypnotic yet haunting, familiar yet unexpected. A slow deep bass beat draws you into the album like an old pair of comforting slippers. What follows is a treat of vocals and instrumentals that skip amongst snappy drums, shimmering percussion, plunging bass lines and seemingly vast musical themes (A2 does hide a lullaby, A5 could launch a sci-fi film, B1 would sound amazing live in church and B4 wouldn't be misplaced on an Ibithan dance floor!). Tracks pulse, loop and reverberate across the stage but all are seamlessly fused from first to last, willing you to flip the disc and start all over again.
You might never rock out to this album but its pace ebbs and flows with unerring ease. A lot of other soundscape albums lack any kind of musical journey, are the home of jarring compilations, an instrumental car crash that rattles the beleaguered listener, mercifully not here. Weaknesses, it's just 9 tracks and this leaves you wanting that little bit more. The fact this album shone out from an original recording on cassette really shouts just how good it is. Plead with Uncle Phil to run another pressing as more of you Normsters deserve to hear this vinyl plate of joy.
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