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Very Drear To Your Heart

Rustic Houses Forlorn Valleys

Judging by the sounds alone that come out of Bristol (with Third Eye Foundation, Amp, Massive Attack and others), it must be kind of a dreary place. That being said, Hood continues in the grand ways of the downtempo, although along a completely different route than the artists mentioned above. Instead of hitting you over the head with deep gurgling beats or odd pitch-bent samples of screams and scary breakbeats, Hood goes more of an acoustic route in dragging you down into the murk with them.

Rustic Houses Forlorn Valleys works sort of like Arab Straps Philophobia minus the mumbling, heavily-accented vocals, and with a smidge of drone to it all. It makes sense, given that not only are there members of Hood in Amp, but that this release was produced by Matt Elliot of Third Eye Foundation. Not only are many of the groups from Bristol dreary, but they're sort of incestuous in terms of what bands they're in as well.

Although there are only 6 songs on the disc, it stretches to about 45 minutes in length mainly due to the slowly progressing nature of the tracks. The disc starts off with a low feedback hum on the nearly 10-minute "S.E. Rain Patterns" before some twinklings of piano (albeit, one that sounds like it's been sunk to the bottom of a lake) finally make their way into the proceedings. Eventually, some light plucking of a guitar and bass weave in with some drums and the track even flourishes a couple times with wounded vocals. The second track "Boer Farmstead" adds a few more spooky features to the acoustic bass, guitar, drum combo with odd backward tape loops and light horns that sound just slightly better than junior-high band practice. It's a sort of off-kilter, repeating track that with either lull you in or annoy you greatly.

The group again starts out rather droney on "The Light Reveals the Place," but it picks up into the liveliest track on the album after awhile with some more tape loops and a decent rhythm (but not nearly anything you could dance to). "Your Ambient Voice" starts out with some simple guitar before a weird tape loop of the vocal track squiggles out and back and things start up. Eventually everything picks up, but the strange noise just keeps working itself into things, sometimes jarringly, sometimes as harmony. It's great. After the fairly plain "The Leaves Grow Old and Fall and Die," the album closes out with the 13-minute long "Diesel Pioneers." It's another very slowly progressing track that actually really breaks out with about 4 minutes to go, but it works well and is a nice album closer.

Basically, the album sounds like a more acoustic version of Amp, although there are still some eerie elements to some of the songs. It's a very soft, slow affair and probably would make the best accompaniment to a cold, fall evening or even an distant, approaching storm. Slow core/drone rock? Sure.

Rating: 6.5