wed 30/09/2020

Album: Hodge - Shadows in Blue | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Hodge - Shadows in Blue

Album: Hodge - Shadows in Blue

Bristol techno-dub mainstay releases his first album a full decade into his career

'Shadows in Blue': 'huge charm and good humour'

For underground music producers, there almost always comes a phase in life when they accept they're no longer young guns and embrace either massively complicated synthesisers, floaty new age music, or both. For Bristol-based Jake Martin aka Hodge it's the latter.

For underground music producers, there almost always comes a phase in life when they accept they're no longer young guns and embrace either massively complicated synthesisers, floaty new age music, or both. For Bristol-based Jake Martin aka Hodge it's the latter. This, his debut album after a decade releasing a couple of dozen EPs on connoisseurs' favourite labels and DJing around the world, has all the signifiers. Rainfall, tropical bird sounds, breathy synth tones in rising patterns, huge reverbs on tiny sounds... yes, even things that sound like panpipes: it's all there. From the hippie pseudo-ashrams of the 70s and 80s to the rave chillout rooms of the 90s, it's extremely familiar stuff.

It would almost feel parodic if it weren't for a couple of things. First, it's not actually a huge departure for Hodge. You can go right back to early breakthrough tracks like 2013's “Bells”, a collaboration with fellow Bristol mainstay Tom “Peverelist” Ford, and hear, if not the nature samples, then certainly the melodic lushness and love of warm synths running through the dubstep-techno hybrids – and these run right through his work, even if sometimes they're sublimated into sparser sounds. And second, it's done with huge charm and good humour.

Even the titles – “The World Is New Again”, “Canopy Sky”, “Sense Inversion” – are full-on new age cliché, yet somehow they feel entirely sincere, and so does the music. And there's a constant edge of invention in it, as in the almost beatless “Sol” which has just a hint of discord and a real emotional punch in the deep cello-like notes that cut in abruptly, or “Ghosts of Akina (Rainbow Edition)” which brings hardcore rave beats and distortion into the rippling cosmic arpeggios. The natural groove that permeates Hodge's club-oriented work to date is always present, whether ghostly or hyper-present, and though the flagrant retroism may tempt you to think you've heard this all before, in fact these tracks will constantly surprise you even as they're worming their way into your affections.

@joemuggs

Watch "Shadows in Blue":

From the hippie pseudo-ashrams of the 70s and 80s to the rave chillout rooms of the 90s, it's extremely familiar stuff

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Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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