Declining Winter: Haunt the Upper Hallways
Immediately upon listening to 'Haunt the Upper Hallways' I was reminded of a Japanese proverb I read on a calendar featuring wood block prints by the late artist Clifton Karhu. The proverb for the month of June reads "the branch grows like the tree" and indeed this latest offering from Hood co-founder Richard Adams under the the Declining Winter moniker will sound instantly familiar and comforting to fans of Hood.
While Hood is on an extended (though hopefully not permanent) hiatus, the members of Hood have ventured off onto solo projects. Chris Adams has released two albums as Bracken. Gareth S Brown has released two solo albums. And now we have the second Declining Winter offering from Richard Adams.
The title track is the most Hood like one of the album and manages to remind of both 'Rustic Houses, Forlorn Valleys' and 'Outside Closer'. All those adjectives that work for Hood tracks -- pastoral, somber, autumnal, haunting, ... -- work equally well here.
This album continues from there along a path which has enough familiar landmarks to draw you further along before suddenly you realize that you aren't on the path you thought you were. Strings and dulcimers pop out with an almost eerie quality. The vocals too have been altered and shifted in ways to lend them a netherworldly quality. Drums skitter and stagger at times throughout the journey, but manage to compel one onward.
At this point, what at first seemed like a familiar landscape has clearly been distorted and rearranged to a much greater extent than expected. It's as if Adams took the elements from past Hood works and stripped them bare, examined them, modified them, added to them and then reassembled the whole lot using different hands and ears.
After all these years of listening to Hood and Hood related bands, I'm not sure why I didn't expect this album to be unexpectedly fresh and engaging, but I'm looking forward to going down a familiar new path again sometime soon.