Robert Hood returns as Floorplan with Paradise, an album of 10 richly textured Detroit techno tracks. From the off you can tell it’s going to be a good listen. After all, Robert Hood has been making techno under various aliases for the best part of 20 years now. Paradise is his tenth LP according to Discogs, and it’s clear that he knows how to make them. The LP flows brilliantly; you almost don’t expect the tracks to finish when they do, before the next track starts up.
Robert Hood’s work on the beat is exceptional. When this album is playing, you can’t not tap you’re feet, bop your head, pump your fist or whatever it is you choose to do. With subtle changes and progressions over the course of the tracks, the beat gives a real sense of movement and keeps things going forward. That has always been the hallmark of Detroit Techno for me, a really well grounded, unrelenting beat which commands you to move. Some of the tracks on Paradise, in particular Baby, Baby call to mind Jeff Mills’ productions. Robert Hood after all these years has maintained that uncompromising aesthetic that shaped Underground Resistance and came across on all of his earlier releases.
Paradise covers a surprising range of moods, atmospheres and feelings considering all ten tracks are straight up Techno going to work on a drum machine. I think this is in part down to very well executed filters and reverb on every part of the track at varying points. This touches the kickdrum, the hi-hats, the synths and the bassline, conveying a sense of cerebral movement and progression, even though none of the tracks really progress all that much beyond the subtleties of the microcosm of the relentless 909. The varying moods, I feel, come from the variety of the highs across the LP. In Track 1, Let’s Ride, the synths represent a feeling of progression, and of bearing towards something. This is followed by Baby, Baby, an altogether more tense affair, accentuated by the orchestral samples in between the phrases.
A few tracks on, Altered Ego has that whole underwater feel going for it, with bulbous synths and a bassline bubbling away below the surface, with a very faint, droning vocal accentuating the beat. Here, the filters are used to devastating effect on the synthline.
Next, Never Grow Old comes in. This is techno at its most soulful, with a great vocal sample and a crackle over the top of the entire track. As the beat develops, with more hi-hats coming to the fore, instrumental chords also develop in the background, keeping the track interesting throughout its 7 minute duration. Out of all the album tracks, this will probably be the one you will have heard before. Expect to hear it more through the rest of the year.
Eclipse and Higher come in next. These are probably the only two tracks that I don’t want to wax lyrical about. They’re good high point of the night tracks, but they don’t sound that distinctive to me. Nevertheless, there’s clearly been a lot of thought that’s gone into these two. The beat pitches up and down to keep it interesting over the repeating sample. The last three tracks of the album bring it to a fine conclusion. Confess sounds all Cuban, with a twinkly piano melody backed up by the kickdrum. Chord Principle takes your head to loads of different imagined places with the simple sample of a short laugh steeped in reverb. The final track, Above the Clouds has a real groove to it in the bassline. Paradise has tracks on it that can destroy a dancefloor at peak time, while it also has tracks that could very comfortably slot into a slower, more restrained set. Above The Clouds is one of these, along with Never Grow Old.