Robert Hood: Omega (M-Plant)
The word “techno” is one of the most bastardized terms in the world of music, being used incorrectly almost as much as the word “ironic” in normal conversation. While we can lay 100% of the blame on Alanis Morrissette for the ironic debacle, techno’s incorrect applications are mostly caused by people’s misunderstanding of music in general, let alone how a genre works. Mainstream music has managed to completely dull the senses of the average listener, allowing him or her to believe that one or two overall elements in a song instantly classifies it into some base category. Unfortunately, this means that anything with a steady electronic beat must be lumped under one single term.
This obviously causes a lot of problems for trying to describe the nuances of a type of music most are actually completely unfamiliar with. It seems the overall mass of people in existence would say they have heard techno; some might even say they love it (and silver necklaces, blowouts, and Jagerbombs at their local club). To those that this hits particularly close to home with, don’t be offended when I say Tiesto, Zombie Nation, and whatever tracks you heard spinning on Jersey Shore are not techno.
Robert Hood creates techno. More specifically, Robert Hood creates minimal Detroit techno. This is a far cry from the fist-pumping, beat-up-the-beat garbage the poor term is forced to be associated with. Factually, Detroit techno (and most techno, for that matter) is not much more than blips and beats, with the Detroit style adding a focus on futuristic details and sparse arrangements. Robert Hood has been producing (and spinning) this mechanic music for decades, and because of this, he is generally considered a master of the style, and he proves it on his latest album.
Omega is an interesting work, mostly because it manages to convey a feeling of darkness without actually being dark, and more importantly, a sense of monotony without becoming droning. Developing an overall feeling on an album without using any sort of melody is quite an endeavor, and keeping someone interested amidst a sea of repetitiveness is even harder. But somehow, Hood pulls it off. Perhaps his usage of subtle variances is what can keep a listener involved from start to finish. Techno albums are notoriously boring if not executed properly, but here Hood uses all the experience under his belt to keep things fresh from track to track, as long as attention is paid to the details.
Aside from the opening track, which is nothing more than a repeated hi-hat building beneath a woman’s talk of religious concepts and metaphorical socio-economic plights, the entire album delivers. “The Plague (Cleansing Maneuvers)” provides one of the most alluring productions on the album by straying away from the usual 4/4 beat used on the rest of the record, while tracks like “Alpha” and “Saved by the Fire” use a more standard approach but don’t leave room for any feeling of disappointment.
Robert Hood kept his city of Detroit near and dear while producing this album, and maybe that’s how he was able to fabricate an album that alludes to the sounds of scarce machinery trying to rebuild a darkened, desolate city.