Shadows in Blue
Since his debut release in 2011, the Bristol producer Hodge has evolved in parallel with a shape-shifting UK bass scene. His earliest releases exemplified the flux of post-dubstep, twisting syncopated grooves together with steely techno pulses; on successive records for labels like Hemlock and Livity Sound, he zigzagged between basement bangers and heady abstractions, taking advantage of bass music’s versatility. Nine years later, his debut album shows just how far he has come—and how singular his signature is, too. In keeping with its home on Houndstooth, a label with ties to London’s Fabric nightclub, Shadows in Blue is built atop a foundation of powerful, risk-taking club music: the stern, staccato toms of “Sense Inversion”; the siren-strafed techno of “Cutie”; the blissed-out breakbeats of the climactic “Ghost of Akina (Rainbow Edition),” which seems designed to bring the roof down at closing time. But these muscular rhythms are balanced by more nuanced tones, like the filmic drones of “Sol” or the lush synths of “Shadows in Blue,” which flashes back to ’90s ambient techno in all its many-layered splendor. Taken together, it’s a compelling look at the state of electronic dance music at its most advanced—and a thrilling suggestion of where it might go next.