In 1991, Robert Hood released his first 12-inch, Gyroscopic, a four-track EP on Underground Resistance with vocoder rapping (his own), chants, bird calls, acid spasms and a clip from a punk gig. Using an alias, The Vision, inspired by his status as a “rogue member” of UR, Hood explored many ideas in search of his sound. In the five-year period between that EP and Spectral Nomad, Hood groomed one to near perfection. “”Sleepchamber,”” he once said, “was the track where I knew I had a voice and a sound that was completely all me.” Minimal Nation, in which Hood planted “rhythms inside of rhythms inside of rhythms,” emerged two years later on Axis. Though that album’s minimalism was mirrored on Spectral Nomad, Hood put ripples in the formula.
Unbroken chord loops on early Hood tracks like “Unix” and “Rhythm Of Vision” are more disjoined on Spectral Nomad, which has been reissued by Metroplex. On the title track, those sounds are more hesitant, pecking and clawing the rhythm into shape. The same chords resurface on “Explain The Style,” arranged in a seven-note string that begins smoothly before seizing up. Other motifs overlap across the EP. “Explain The Style” and “Detroit: One Circle” share a one-word chant, “Detroit.” Aqueous sounds bubble underneath most tracks in counter-melodic patterns. Choppy drum breaks—heavy on hi-hats that sound like sharpened knives—appear on “Spectral Nomad” and “Modern And Ancient.”
If many of Hood’s tracks in the mid-’90s were defined by simple outlines, then Spectral Nomad scrambled those contours. The broken techno of “Modern And Ancient” foreshadows the sort of club music now thriving in Bristol. On the 12-inch’s undoubted anthem, “Detroit: One Circle,” the sounds of malfunction—boings, pings, sirens—float like debris in a fast-running current. It works wonders.