Robert Hood’s world is a self-contained one, which is a good thing when the genre you’re credited with creating bites the dust, leaving behind a cloud of ambient scorn. But whether or not he’s making minimal techno, Hood continues to exert a considerable influence on contemporary dance music from a godlike remove, underscoring the fact that his innovation isn’t tied to a particular sound but rather the musicality that runs through his entire body of work, whether he’s taking on gospel music as Floorplan or apocalyptic sci-fi on recent LP Omega. The albums in his Nighttime World series feel particularly personal, emphasizing his experimental, moody, and lush side without abandoning techno altogether; what he’s up to on these albums is harder to describe than “minimal,” with its built-in manifesto, but it just might get us closer to the core of Hood’s appeal. His latest 12″ finds him returning to Gent’s Music Man Records after his mid-aughts Hoodmusic run, and it pairs “Torque One,” a track from the forthcoming Motor: Nighttime World 3, with the exclusive “Movement.”
Rolling along at a leisurely-for-him 120 bpm, “Torque One” bridges the 12-year gap since Nighttime World Volume 2 with richer, more detailed production. The billowing, filtered synth chords up front have a satiny gloss, making them an ideal surface for catching reflections of storefront neon and orange-yellow streetlamps as the kick drum conveys you through empty streets. It’s a deeply satisfying listen — textured, calm, and driving — and is either a subtle refinement of the production style he’s established for these releases or a fresh assertion of mastery and control. On the other hand, “Torque One” seems a little anodyne considering Hood’s talent for crystallizing a coherent track around a seemingly untamable loop. Sure enough, “Movement” delivers on that promise of sonic alchemy, contrasting an ominous tom pattern and sharp-edged strings with a synth sequence that suggests a computer dejectedly trying and failing to boot up. It’s evocative and nuanced, even if it fails to give this EP a purpose other than advertising the forthcoming album.