- Ambivalence would be a natural response to the current glut of retrospectives in electronic music. In techno particularly, such nostalgia and, by implication, its establishment of a revered musical canon, runs contrary to the scene's progressive ethos. As we've seen in rock music, such indulgent reminiscing—that whole industry of selling lavish box-sets to middle-aged men—has helped foster a sense that the genre's high-water mark passed decades ago. If club culture is not to fall into the same trap, it needs to be less smitten with its past.
For instance, it would be easy, when presented with a mammoth triple-CD overview of Robert Hood's work, to unquestioningly trot out some familiar homilies about what pioneer he is, give it 5/5 and move on. For some, it is matter of respect. It shouldn't be. These tracks should be judged not through the prism of Hood's status or as fascinating historical artefacts, but on the basis of whether or not they still sound fresh and compelling today.
As it happens, M-Print: 20 Years Of M-Plant Music does quite well on that front. In its elision of gospel, disco and pummelling techno, Hood's recent Floorplan material is clearly a stroke of genius. There is also much older work here ("Minus," "Untitled 1," "The Grey Area") that sounds genuinely timeless. In their spare, crystalline beauty and counter-intuitive digital dysfunction, those tracks, much more so than the comparatively orthodox Detroit techno of Minimal Nation, both prefigured the rise of minimal techno and have not aged one iota.
However, there is also a significant minority of less inspired tracks here. 2001's "The Greatest Dancer" may be fascinating to the Hood hardcore as a creative precursor to his Floorplan work, but its disco loops sound gauche compared to what would follow. Likewise, the epic strings that soar above "AM Track" or the phasing FX on "Dancer (Remix)" sound dated. The trite gospel house of "We Magnify His Name" is a musical manifestation of Hood's Christian faith at its most didactic and least persuasive.
But almost no one can carry a 33-track retrospective without some of it sounding like filler. If you need a copy of the classics, buy M-Print. But if not, spend your money on Motor: Nighttime World 3 or Floorplan's Paradise, two recent Hood albums that are as powerful as they are different. Hood's star is still in its ascendency, as the dynamism of new tracks like "Analog Track (Ghost)" illustrates. What is he making now or tomorrow? That is what truly matters.
01. The Grey Area (Moveable Parts Chapter 2, 1997)
02. Untitled 1 (Moveable Parts Chapter 1, 1995)
03. The Rhythm of Vision (Minimal Nation, 1994)
04. Protein Valve 1 (The Protein Valve, 1994)
05. Stereotype (Stereotype, 1998)
06. Realm (as ‘Monobox’ - Realm, 1996)
07. The Pace (Minimal Nation, 1994)
08. Untitled Sketch (Moveable Parts Chapter 1, 1995)
09. Unix (Minimal Nation, 1994)
10. Minus (Internal Empire, 1994)
11. The Greatest Dancer (The Greatest Dancer, 2001)
01. Dancer (Remix)
02. Power To Prophet (Power to Prophet, 2010)
03. We Magnify His Name (as ‘Floorplan’ – Sanctified, 2010)
04. Superman (Superman/Range, 2009)
05. Alpha (Alpha/Omega, 2010)
06. Eleven (Eleven/Alarm, 2011)
07. Baby, Baby (as ‘Floorplan’ – Sanctified, 2011)
08. The Family (Alpha/The Family, 2011)
09. Range (Superman/Range, 2009)
10. Never Grow Old (as ‘Floorplan’ Paradise, 2013)
01. Exturnus Oblique (Re-Plant)
02. A.M. Track (The Protein Valve 1, 1994)
03. Arrows (Edit)
04. Untitled 4 (Moveable Parts Chapter 1, 1995)
06. The Family (Re-Plant)
07. Minus (Edit)
08. Analog Track (Ghost) (exclusive to Perpetual Masters: Protein Valve EP, 2014)
09. Who Taught You Math (Alt. Mix)
10. Protein Valve 1 (Re-Plant) (Protein Valve Edits EP, 2014)
11. Full Armor
12. Minimal Minded