Review: The Declining Winter – Haunt The Upper Hallways

It’s been rather quiet of late on the Hood front. A shame because Hood have always one of the most idiosyncratic of bands. After all, not many groups can pull off the skill of merging hip-hop with a despairing evocation of Northern England. To go along with their cult following, Hood have always been a very collectable outfit too, with a number of multi-format releases to their name. So ‘Haunt The Upper Hallways’ – the new record by Hood co-founder Richard Adams AKA The Declining Winter – is released as a 7″ single and accompanying bonus CD.

The title track gives no indication of hiding Adams’ roots in his parent band. Differing only in terms of his despairing vocals, it’s a great mixture of acoustic guitar, shuffling percussion and sighed harmonies, rounded off by a mournful brass finale. A great lost Hood track, one might say. ‘My Name Is In Ruins’ is another winner with its queasy changes of pace and Adams’ melancholic enunciations making up a very unusual and melodic song.

Much of the rest of the CD is an exercise in experimental post-rock but it certainly has much to recommend it. Somewhere within the jazz and strings stylings of ‘Where The Severn Rivers Tread’ lies a rare beauty. ‘Drenched’ and ‘Carta Remix’ serve as a nostalgic mood pieces whilst the folk instrumental ‘Goodbye Lights LS28′ reminds me of ancient childrens’ programmes.

On first hearing the CD, it seems as if this is a front-loaded record , made up of the three single tracks and seven perfunctory B-sides. Yet there’s much to enjoy for those who are prepared to work through the initially confusing mixture of genres; giving credence to the idea that Richard is an adventurous solo performer with a gift for conveying comfort and warmth amidst the bleak fog.

Web Sites:
The Declining Winter Official Site
The Declining Winter MySpace
Home Assembly Music Label and Shop Site

Further Listening:
Hood, Epic45, July Skies


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