Floorplan – ‘Phobia’ ( M Plant )

Whilst most men of his age are grappling with existential crises and purchasing untimely convertibles, Robert Hood continues to release some of the best music of his already glittering career. With a Discogs entry that stretches several pages and includes 10 long players, including this year’s superb ‘Paradise’ under his Floorplan alias, its a fair assessment to say that Hood’s significant body of work has given his legion of fans a pretty good idea of what to expect when new material rears its head. That’s not to discount the commitment to experimentation that has been a consistent feature of his more than 20 year career, although it is unarguably minimalism which has defined Hood as an artist and made him so popular. On the ‘Phobia’ EP, Hood picks up where he left off on ‘Paradise’, delivering two lean mean cuts of driving House complimented by a remix from recent Fabric mix series champion Ben Sims.

Kicking things off is the title track, a punishing DJ tool that trades in brutalist industrial funk. As always Hood derives suspense from the introduction and removal of his track’s elements, a well worn trick for sure, but one that is continually delivered with aplomb. The stifled chords of ‘Phobia’ sit as the unremitting rhythmic bedrock that Hoods builds upon, with pulsing fx and steely flourishes added to throbbing percussion to create an often intense listening experience. Sure to once again find the favour of DJ’s such as longtime Hood fan Ben Klock, ‘Phobia’ shows the Motor City master deriving excitement and drama from each individual element regardless of its simplicity.

Coming equally quick out of the gate is ‘Glory B’, although here Hood takes the rawer soul approach last seen on cuts such as tune of the year contender and ‘Paradise’ highlight, ‘Never Grow Old’. A short Violin loop forms the framework, with Hood layering on a preacher vocal sample which would sound tacky in less experienced hands than those of the outspokenly religious producer. Simmering pad swells and icy string swoons add to the anxious atmosphere, with Hood removing the kick for a tasteful yet highly effective mid track breakdown. Using Chicago sounds delivered via unmistakably Detroit methods, this one has showstopping potential.

Finally on remix duty is Ben Sims, who takes the twitchy paranoid groove of ‘Paradise”s ‘Higher’ and streamlines it. A man who just packed an incredible 44 tracks into his excellent Fabric CD, Sims is well equipped to identify the most vital component parts of the original and shape them into his own dancefloor banger. Favouring a slightly more gradual build than Hood, Sims filters a basic synth loop in and out of view alongside some basic but hard hitting percussion. Tracky but impactful, Sims only allows brief respite from the chugging groove.

A triple salvo of club tracks from two of the best in the business, the ‘Phobia’ EP is the penultimate release in what has been a vintage year from this ageless master of his craft.

Christian Murphy

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