Neighborhoods is a record about remembering, looking towards the past through the tinted glass of the present. As Ernest Hood writes in the liner notes, “If the music seems a little bittersweet, well…isn’t that the taste of nostalgia?” Hood’s project here isn’t to recreate the textures and rhythms of a specific time and place, but to evoke the feeling of reminiscing.
This in mind, it’s entirely appropriate that the album conjures up two separate eras — the 1920s and ‘30s (childhood) and the 1970s (adulthood). Neighborhoods was self-released in 1975, and listening to it today is akin to watching a period-piece from around then, like Chinatown or Thieves Like Us. Although the stories in those films take place in the ‘30s, their look and feel and attitude is redolent of the time in which they were produced, and so we see the past filtered through the more-recent-past; a layered history, unstable and reactive.
No small wonder, then, that Hood calls his work “musical cinematography” — listening to this album is like watching a movie while blindfolded. Judging from Hood’s notes, the recordings that make up the bulk of this album are compositions of historical sounds, family documents, and field recordings, assembled so as to conjure up the soundscape of an American childhood in the early part of the 20th century. The songs are arranged chronologically to chart the course of a day: in the morning we hear birds, chatting, washing; at lunch, a visit to the store; in the evening, the Fourth of July fireworks show.
This film-without-images is intermittently scored by Hood’s multitracked zithers and synthesizers — imagine someone trying to recreate Fripp & Eno’s (No Pussyfooting) from memory on a harpsichord. Although Hood’s noodling can be quite pretty, this is no landmark of minimalism. But while there’s no denying that this music is sentimental and dated, that’s arguably the point. Neighborhoods is a very personal sonic document, and it’s a strangely affecting one if you let yourself give into it.
Neighborhoods has never been repressed, but vinyl rips can be found online. Headphones recommended.
Tracklist:A1. Saturday Morning Doze
A2. At The Store
A3. August Haze
A4. The Secret Place
B1. After School
B3. From The Bluff
B4. Night Games