Robert Hood’s Dancer, An Ass Shaking Classic

I’ve been a fan of Robert Hood‘s brand of sensually minimal techno since hearing a reissue of his classic Minimal Nation double 12″ in 2009, falling in love with the beyond-lush Motor: Nighttime World 3 a few years later. Somehow I’d never dug through his vast collection of singles until last Friday. I was working at my desk when Dancer queued up, and immediately had to stomp my feet along, slapping the desk with my open palms.

This track is a 4/4 monster, piling grand piano and a hairy sax groove on top of a throbbing beat, with just the slightest hint of guitar sprinkled around. The mixture of pure electronics and live instrumentation works in a way most hybrids could only dream of. It’s the kind of song Daft Punk would kill to make; the sound feels like peeling their recent album Random Access Memories down to its beating heart.

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Only a handful of Detroit masters craft techno with such soul, such a playful jazz sensibility, as Robert Hood. I’m thinking of Carl Craig, Kenny Larkin, and of course Underground Resistance, where Hood began his musical odyssey. While this tune is obviously more of a house thumper, I’m happy to share it as another example of the playful, jazzy core of what makes Detroit techno one of my favorite sounds of all time.

8 thoughts on “Robert Hood’s Dancer, An Ass Shaking Classic

  1. Robert Hood is the originator of ‘Minimal Techno’, and has been overlooked; with the crown being handed to Richie Hawtin. Thing is, I’m a big Hawtin fan (less so with his work and label these days) and have been since first hearing his work as FUSE back in 1991, but this is yet another case of the media favouring a white face over a black one. Shame. Mr Hood is a class act and deserves the recognition.

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    • Weirdly, and probably because I came to it well after the fact (like mid-00’s) minimal techno has always been synonymous with Hood to me; I actually just found a FUSE album on spotify though, and plan on listening today. I know for sure that Hood doesn’t get the widespread acclaim that the likes of other Detroit techno artists, minimal or not, have received, which is a shame. I could listen to his Nighttime World albums on repeat forever! They’re got precision and soul in equal measure.

      The notion of the media favoring white faces can be applied to the wider world of electronic music in general; how many people associate house and techno with Ibiza, and white Europeans? I have such a hard time convincing anyone around here of the true birthplace of this music, its real roots.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

      • ‘Dimension Intrusion’ by FUSE is a collection of Hawtin’s early EP’s etc under that moniker. It’s classic early Techno for sure, and ironically, back then I was arguing for Hawtin to get the attention he deserves and to not be dissing him just coz he’s white (Derrick May etc used to throw insults his way all the time). I agree on Robert Hood not getting the credit he deserves re: Techno in general. For me, a much better producer than Jeff Mills.

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        • I just listened to it, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Had no idea that it was a collection; very cohesive sound. I’ll be listening to this some more.

          I really wish I owned all three Nighttime World albums by Hood, though. What a collection. I’m not super familiar with Mills’ solo work though. Do you have a recommendation?

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          • I’ve never been that keen to be honest, so I’m not the right guy to talk to. I used to own ‘Nighttime World Vol 1’ and lost it; I remember a real minimal monster track on there called ‘Untitled’, and that the last track had these beautiful sounds of breaking glass. Yeah, that Fuse album is very cohesive and works perfectly as an album. I had no idea it was on spotify. I brought that on a whim just after Christmas in 1993; it was only when I got it home and listened I realised it was by that Canadian guy I’d heard on a brilliant Techno radio show called ‘the outer Limits’ on Kiss fm.

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