Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Six Star Songs: Hood - "The Lost You"

Hood are a not-that-well-known experimental group that have been around for twenty years and have made songs in diverse styles, mostly focusing on electronic and folk music. "The Lost You" was released as a single in 2004 and appeared on their most recent proper LP Outside Closer in 2005.

Every once in a while I hear a song that makes me stop immediately and think yes...this is the glorious future of music! I thought this when I first heard Outkast's "Bombs Over Baghdad" and was subsequently disappointed that hip-hop wasn't epically changed forever after. The same thing happened when I heard those first fateful notes of "Everything In Its Right Place" at the beginning of Radiohead's Kid A, and found that things actually were more or less changed--mainstream pop has borrowed considerably from the sonic landscape that Radiohead helped define. I had that thought again in 2005 when I first heard Hood's "The Lost You".

The first few glitched/sampled beat notes that lead in the track sound like the child of everything great about electric music and hip-hop mixed with "indie" and pop music, but stop almost immediately as we hear a live recording of someone saying, to an audience, "I'm cheating myself...same problem as usual." Chris Adams, the lead singer, emotes softly as the music comes in again, and it's a mix of the same samples with a steady beat, mellow weaving single-key bell-like chimes, muted synth blurbs, light piano hits, and acoustic guitar. It would be incredibly easy for the layered orchestration to sound muddy and jumbled with so much going on, but each individual instrument dances around the other, creating an incredibly intricate and sad whirling wall of noise. The sheer volume of sound threatens to overwhelm, and this is purposeful, as the simple-enough lyrics long for a someone who has been lost, declaring '02 to be the "year of the lost you." As we listen, we feel the drowning, depressive sadness in the aural whirlwind which backs off into a muddy break just in time to give us a breath. Unbelievably, the huge wave of sound returns even more full with the most important moment of the song: When the electric guitar chimes in with warbly single notes, it gives a fierceness to the regret that wasn't there before. In the end, everything pulls out and fades slowly, leaving a screeching feedback remaining.

Hood's masterpiece works so well because it takes elements of multiple genres and combines them into a huge palette without losing the sound of regret and without it turning into a noisy mess. The last minute is pure headphone bliss. Although I haven't yet gotten wind of a utopian musical future that borrows egalitarianly from various modern styles like "The Lost You" suggests, my fingers are still crossed.

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