When they formed, the Leeds band Hookworms had a sound that pulled together some of the best elements of neo-psychedelia, Krautrock, and space rock, combining them into murky, mind-altering blasts of socially conscious noise rock. The band, whose members go only by their initials (MJ on vocals, keyboards, and production; JW and SS on guitars; MB on bass; and JN on drums) to avoid putting themselves above their music, came together in 2009, and released their self-titled EP on Gringo Records two years later. Their first proper full-length release, Pearl Mystic, followed on the label in 2013. Domino offshoot label Weird World picked up the album for distribution and also released their next record, The Hum, in late 2014.
All their albums were recorded in MJ's Suburban Home studio located on the banks of the River Aire, and Hookworms used the space as their HQ as well. That all changed the day after Christmas in 2015 when the rising levels of the river breached the walls of the studio and slowly began to flood it. MJ rescued what he could, but the space was a total loss. Thanks to a crowd-funding effort, he was able to build a new Suburban Home, and continued recording bands there.
Once the studio was up and running, Hookworms began work on their third album, this time heading in a direction heavily influenced by electronic music, with songs built around loops, loads of vintage synths, and MJ's vocals dialed way down. In between Hookworms records, MB had formed the very synth-heavy XAM Duo and other members experimented with techno and electronics on their own, so it seemed like a natural progression. They also worked with outside collaborators for the first time, with MB's partner in XAM Duo, Christopher Duffin, adding sax to a song, Alice Merida Richards of Virginia Wing duetting with MJ on a track, and legendary producer and Spectrum member Richard Formby on synthesizer on a song. Microshift was issued in February of 2018 by Domino. ~ Gregory Heaney