Detroit techno legend Robert Hood has been plenty busy dropping gospel-tinged workouts as Floorplan in recent years, with Paradygm Shift being his first album since 2012. Arriving on Dutch dance music hub Dekmantel, it’s a return to the minimalistic, raw techno Hood pioneered, revealing the soul within the machines. It’s high time techno switched gears, ‘cause the man from the Motor City said so.
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After a coupla 12”s for Dekmantel premiering Robert Hood’s latest project ‘Paradygm Shift’, the album is now with us. Following the disco/house rooted sounds of his last album as Floorplan, the Detroit techno legend returns to the sound for which he is best known and loved, indeed, a sound he created. That is minimal techno; precision tooled rhythms for the club. Hoods music is perfectly listenable at home, in the car etc. but through a big system, late at night is where his sound really comes to life. ‘Paradigm Shift’ is pure, no frills Robert Hood dance floor ammunition.
The album is certainly takes the less is more approach of his seminal ‘Minimal Nation’ album. The tracks are reasonably sparse and repetitive and always retain that infectious, joyful funk and magical hypnosis that Hood achieves through simple rhythms and a crisp, pristine sound palette. Still nobody does minimal techno like Robert Hood, after all, he did pretty much fucking invent it. I can clearly remember being on a dance floor some years ago where a Robert Hood track was playing and my mate was dancing like a puppet as though he had lost all self control and the music was controlling his body. I get that same sense from a lot of these tracks - just let go and let the energy flow through you, and you’re in for a good time.
The short intro track ‘Preface’ simmers and gently pulsates with an ascending silvery synth and muted handclaps. It has a very transformative feel - as though Hood’s mindset is returning from where he last left us with his ‘Motor: Nighttime World 3’ back to his post Underground Resistance, more minimal roots in his early M-Plant productions. Then Boom, ‘Idea’ kicks in and with a pounding kick and a tangled metallic riff and a few piston like blasts, we’re immediately under his spell. ‘I Am’ initially reminds me a of a Donato Dozzy tune. It’s a really elastic, driving peak time cut with that frantic energy he does so well. ‘Solid Thought’ is more of a stomper with marching drums, which at its most intense, is like heading towards a wormhole at light speed.
‘Nephesh’ doesn’t let up the energy with jacking claps and alarm like loop - it has that Chicago influence that runs through some of his tracks. ‘Pneuma’ is about as melodic as the album gets, with its soulful melody. Kinda reminds me a wee bit of ‘Who Taught You Math’. You can almost imagine a mathematical / geometry diagram coming to life to the sound of ’Pattern’. ‘Thought Process’ has a tough, relentless, slippery groove for the wee hours dancers with the most stamina. The album closes with a an extended, trippy bleeping mix of ‘Lockers’ from the first ‘Paradigm Shift’ 12”. All solid stuff, in classic Robert Hood mode.
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