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HOOD: Rustic Houses Forlorn Valleys (LP, Domino WIGLP42, 1998)

Hood - Rustic Houses Forlorn Valleys

To my recollection this was Hood’s first ‘big time’ release, marking their shift from sporadic flurries of records coming out of tiny microlabels in bagged, hand-folded sleeves to a proper, ‘real’ label. (Bear in mind that in the spectrum of labels releasing Hood’s work, Domino were and remain independent yet Geffenesque in scale compared to earlier labels that they worked with). The Hood ‘aesthetic’ was all over this album – the record’s title creating some kind of Lakes village mystery, the grainy photographs of nothing that mask some unimagined tension and dread, and the insert contained within that, despite the run on this release being in the thousands rather than the hundreds, contained the band’s actual address as a means to contact. Since the early ’90s Spofforth Hill in Wetherby has seemed a mystical place to me, being the place from which both Hood and Boyracer – both long-term favourites of mine – originally appeared, and a road to which I sent countless letters back in the day when we all used to correspond through the mail.

This Wetherby contingent – very recently celebrated on a new release from Boyracer founder Stewart Anderson’s 555 label – got involved with a lot of musicians and artists as time went by. Looking at the few names mentioned on the insert for this record we’ve got Matt Elliot (Flying Saucer Attack, Third Eye Foundation), Richard Formby (producer to everybody from Spacemen 3 to Telescopes to a billion other acts) and Nicola Hodgkinson (Empress) – just a tiny glimpse into a network of friends and collaborators that sprang up around Hood, Boyracer and their associated ilk.

I was going to write about what a shame it is that Hood never became really big, and that they never seemed to break out of an in-the-know circle of people (admittedly, a pretty large circle) – they’re certainly good enough and have put in enough years of effort to warrant some kind of real recognition. But then again, maybe it’s not a shame? It’s always good to have a band or two who never ‘cross over’, who don’t become something they never hinted at becoming in their earlier days. Like the mysterious images on their record sleeves, Hood were then and still are a mysterious band, and one that you need to investigate and work with to get the most out of.

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