Release Date: August 14, 2014
Studio: Self-recorded and produced
Genre: Trip hop/Glitch/Drum and Bass/Ambient
For Fans of: Nujabes, Cocorosie, Bones, Burial, Yppah
In general, it takes a rare strain of courage to persist beyond multiple frustrations and failures to continue after one’s passion. In the climate and breakneck culture of today’s world, however, where new industry trends can pop up overnight, it takes an entirely different type of character to plunge ahead. James Hodson is one such daring soul, taking life head on and not letting go.
For nearly the last decade, Hodson has unabashedly immersed himself in a thick spread of technical and creative challenges, not the least of which is developing and sharing music. Earlier this year Hodson released his Colours That Glow in the Dark EP, and the tracks on this release are engaging to say the least.
Hodson eases the listener in to his tastemaking with “Like Chalk to Slate.” This track is under three minutes but quickly allows the listener to grasp the nuances Hodson is going for. Interestingly enough, the artist fearlessly utilizes a gutsy sample from the movie Donnie Darko. This sample adds high contrast to the otherwise grooving, aloof and spacious track.
“Out to Pasture,” the first full track on Colours That Glow in the Dark, is a fantastic song for driving. Hodson continues his themes and propensities of calculated space, simple but refined beats, drone-like bass lines and a curious lack of melody. The mood he formulates on this track is perfectly conducive to allowing one’s mind to wander and gather new thoughts. For Hodson’s genre(s) of choice,the tempo falls in a perfect middle ground where it does not lag and the listener does not feel rushed.
“Pink & Blue” is a sensationally light and unexpectedly enjoyable track. This is not to say that Hodson’s music is bad (it is good music); it is to highlight how effortlessly the track seems to have been composed. “Pink & Blue” ranges from well executed but airy beats and subtle shades to a perfectly chosen guitar line throughout the final third of the song.
Hodson is able to demonstrate with covetous adroitness how complexity does not always equal better art, and how the underground world of music is still flourishing. “Pink & Blue” is another fantastic addition to Hodson’s catalog of coffee shop, thinking-man style music. One can allow their thoughts to surface without missing out on the pleasing taste of Hodson’s tunes.
Maintaining his stylistically fresh, laid back vibe, Hodson dishes up another aesthetically pleasing track with “The Winter/Their Apartment.” This song makes use of further spoken word samples, a feature Hodson leverages well to boost the individuality of his music. Even with a sound that could be lumped into the “electronic” or worse yet, “techno” worlds, Hodson is able to fashion finer distinctions within his music than that of his peers.
For the better part of the song, Hodson’s spoken word sample of choice drones on, but makes room for an unforeseen texture. The monotony and plain characteristics of the voice are mixed in with the relatively upbeat mood of the instrumentals. Surely enough, this combination only seems to magnetize the listener rather than coming across as irritating.
“Somewhere Down in the West” is the EP’s most aggressive track, pumping out a full drum and bass vibe. Hodson does not give in to the temptation to sound just like every other drum and bass artist, though. It is fully evidenced on this track that he stops at nothing to meticulously craft the exact beats, sequences, layers and overall experiences he wants for his listeners. “Somewhere Down in the West” passes faster than expected, due in part to the song’s lively cadence.
Colours That Glow in the Dark contains five songs of respectably original material. All too often one can find musicians who are rushing their creations to market, missing the entire point of creating in the first place. In the world of art, far more often than not, something that takes time is bound to be better than that which does not. James Hodson provides all the proof a music fan needs to back this statement up.
Hodson’s EP was released this summer through The Waveform Generator. Pick up your own copy on his Bandcamp, keep up to date through Facebook and check out more of his captivating tunes on his website.
Underground Examinations is a series of Independent Music Reviews with the intention of giving new music a fair and appropriate opportunity to be enjoyed.
Review by Brad Johnson