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Monobox Molecule

No longer is it reasonable to suppose that history unfolds as narratives of "great men" and "great events." Nevertheless, for those living it, history is, as Chaucer put it, "the smiler with the dagger beneath the cloak." In the fabled and often inaccurate stories of Detroit during its late 20th-century technological renaissance, Robert Hood's name is everywhere. But it remains a mystery as to why his name is absent from so many accounts of the minimalist strand in contemporary techno and house. He effectively invented the analog strain of minimalism in 1994 on his breathtaking "Minimal Nation," recorded for Jeff Mills's Axis label. He's a barely acknowledged but major influence on everyone from Basic Channel's Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald to Force Inc's Vladislav Delay and Akufen. Hood continues to leave his peers and loyal fans holding their breath for his new records. His latest full-length for the French label Logistic (for whom he did his first mix CD, among other projects over the past two years) is one of his best. Alongside the prescient Minimal Nation album (Axis, 1994) and Nighttime World (Cheap, 1995), Molecule follows a perfectly executed flight path. It's almost a concept album insofar as certain threads run through all the tracks, from the opening bolt, "The Construct," through the blinding ice floes of "The Diamond Age." Hood's ability to create a sense of space and tension with a minimum of equipment is stunning. He's always shunned buying new gear and software, and eschewed sampling altogether. Yet, he creates cavernous, beautiful earthscapes that rumble like an oncoming tsunami. Too often, Hood's considered a mere accessory to Jeff Mills. Yet their work is only superficially similar. Hood's exquisite sense of melody-which he hides inside the tracks like a timer device set to detonate at the last second-still shocks me. Hood's mastery of a few instruments and consistent ability to wring from them new sounds also makes his music by turns subtle and powerful. On Molecule, he's brought his wholly original techniques into the light. "

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