A tribute to Tony Allen, by Emma-Jean Thackray
The art, music, film and books that an artist consumes while making an album can be an interesting window into the final project, often offering a crucial sense of the musician’s headspace during its creation. Bristol’s Hodge today releases his debut full-length ‘Shadows In Blue’ via Houndstooth, a compelling record that shows off his versatility as a producer.
The ten-track LP moves between more ‘floor-minded cuts like the break-laden ‘Cutie’, crunchy techno jam ‘Ghost of Akina – Rainbow Edition’ and more mystical, atmospheric works with an organic feel, perhaps a salute to his newfound love of plants and gardening. It comes peppered with elements from nature; birdsong and natural-sounding percussion – a coincidentally timely nod to our re-connection with the natural world. Below, Hodge names the films, books and events that made way for ‘Shadows In Blue’, from sci-fi writing to a Japanese festival.
Embrace of the Serpent (2016)
“I love this film, it’s an amazing story about a hunt for a sacred healing plant. The way it’s shot is beautiful and it feels really spiritual. I can’t recommend it enough and when I first watched it I had one of the most productive weeks in the studio in my life, it really affected me.”
Octavia E. Butler
“I read a whole bunch of Octavia E. Butler books while writing the album and two which really stick out are the Parable series and Lilith’s Brood. Parable of the Sower exists in a horrific dystopian world where society has collapsed due to climate change and the protagonist is looking to set up a community with a strong emphasis on growing plants and food. The Lilith’s Brood series is very different and an absolute trip to read. Aliens with multiple sexes and interbreeding, it left me thinking about whether human life is really destined to end on earth.”
Paramount festival – Gunma, Japan
“I played at a festival called Paramount last year in May which was an amazing experience and the week before I’d watched an anime series called Initial D. The film centres around drivers racing around a mountain called Akina (秋名). When I arrived at Paramount I could hear loads of tyres screeching and went for a walk, down the road from the festival was a carpark with cars drifting around a course, and to make it even more surreal a few of the cars were the Toyota Sprinter which is literally the car in the movie. I felt like I’d just walked into the film I was watching the week before – it was a trip. Even weirder was that it turned out Akina was actually based on the mountain the festival was on. It was such a mad experience that I ended up writing a track on the album after the whole thing which is called ‘Ghost of Akina (Rainbow Edition)’.
Laputa Castle In The Sky (1986)
“A big inspiration behind the album was sci-fi-meets-nature. I got obsessed with the idea of nature taking back the world and this film really ties in with that for me. It’s beautiful, as all Studio Ghibli films are, but the imagery of Laputa really resonates with me and I found myself watching it again while writing the album, which felt perfect.”
“I first read William Gibson’s Sprawl and Bridge trilogies around eight years ago, and they’ve always stayed with me as an incredibly strong source of inspiration. As I was writing the album I went back and re-read some of the old books, sometimes just picking them up and reading passages in-between writing, when being creative I find it really helps to throw yourself into an alternative world. Gibson creates the world for his books to exist with really strong visual identity. I love the way he writes, the language he uses, he actually coined the term ‘Cyberspace’ in 1982 in his story Burning Chrome which is absolutely crazy. The books have been such a huge influence on me it’d feel wrong to not include him in this list.”
Hodge’s ‘Shadows In Blue’ is out today via Houndstooth – stream or purchase it here.