Robert Hood – Motor: Nighttime World 3
Robert Hood is techno’s undisputed minimal master, but previous instalments of Nighttime World – especially the jazz-fuelled inaugural release in 1995 on Cheap – have afforded him the opportunity to go off script and indulge his conceptual whims. Will he do the same again on Motor: Nighttime World 3? The answer is a resounding yes. Inspired by Julien Temple’s 2010 documentary Requiem For Detroit?, which charts the fall and decline of America’s former car manufacturing hub, the album is full of references to the effects of man’s interaction with technology.
Chillingly, it begins with “The Exodus”, a widescreen synth passage with the sound of the wind howling through it, which would appear to document Detroit’s demise and depopulation. It’s followed by “MotorCity” and “Better Life”, which jump back in time to capture the optimism of the motor car boom. While “City” is powered by acid tweaks, “Life” sounds even more upbeat as jazzy flourishes flow through its bubbling groove. The combination of acid lines with widescreen synths and purring rhythms occurs on a number of occasions on Motor – most notably on the pulsing electronic groove of “Drive (The Age Of Automation)” – but for every paean to technological progress, there is a downside.
This is articulated in its most extreme form on “Hate Transmissions”, where crashing snares and human screeches vie with distorted 303s for the listener’s attention, but even more effective is the expression of a city on the edge of ruin audible on “Slow Motion Katrina”. A reference to the claim in Temple’s film that Detroit was a ‘man made Katrina’ as opposed to a victim of a natural disaster, the spectre of Gerald Donald at his most obtuse looms over Hood’s free-form jazz playing.
It’s not all gloom though and Hood offers some cause for hope on the skeletal “A Time to Rebuild”. It sees the former UR man go back to his techno roots, dropping a bassy rhythm track littered with resonating riffs that sounds like an outtake from an early Network compilation. If Kraftwerk’s shimmering Man Machine was a testament to the benefits of humans harnessing technology, then Motor: Nighttime World 3 is the gloomy riposte, emerging from the rubble of a shattered metropolis to tell this sad but compelling tale and crucially, to offer some hope for the future.
1. The Exodos [sic]
2. Motor City
3. Better Life
4. The Wheel
5. Black Technician
7. Drive (The Age of Automation)
8. Torque One
9. Hate Transmissions
10. Slow Motion Katrina
12. A Time To Rebuild