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Review: Hookworms broaden the mental horizon on ‘Microshift’

Just let yourself go…

Microshift In this day and age when it comes to music it is so easy to skip over a track and potentially miss something great because of how used to instant gratification society has become. If the song does not get to the catchy, fun, awesome part(s) right away then it will probably get overlooked by most listeners.

However, there are still artists out there who dare to challenge the form that has been set in stone for decades now.

One such group is a psychedelic/noise rock band from Leeds/Halifax, England by the name of Hookworms.

After releasing two full length LP’s and multiple other releases, theyhave just returned with a grand collection of mind expanding and challenging music in the form of their third album Microshift.

Microshift is a fascinating concoction that brings together some of the bright, upbeat vibes of 80’s New Wave, the ambient and progressive nature of Pink Floyd, and the vibrant timbres of modern indie music.

Do not go into Microshift expecting a basic verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-chorus kind of deal. It will not be found here. Nothing in this album repeats all that much.

Much like real human thought and emotion, it just keeps flowing from one moment to the next in a never ending stream of consciousness.

The whole album is pretty much connected that way with some tracks leading directly into the next.

One of the rather special elements of Microshift is how it manages to seamlessly blend analog with digital in that there are all the traditional instruments of a rock n’ roll band like guitars, organ, drums, bass, vocals, etc. but they are intertwined with dazzling digital soundscapes in a beautiful knot.

Some of the best examples of this would be in songs like “Negative Space”, “The Soft Season”, “Opener”, and more.

“Opener” actually sounds vaguely similar to the intro for the hit Netflix sci-fi thriller series Stranger Things.

It has that kind of arpeggiated synth loop in its background that would make anyone who has watched the show expect to see Eleven do something awesome shortly.

That said, the song does deviate from that loop after a short period and builds into a full band song that still manages to keep the mood of the intro loop without just copying it.

There are delightfully quirky moments on this record too. In “Ullswater” the synth riff that cycles throughout the majority of the song is somewhat reminiscent of a classic 80’s NES game in some ways.

Some could find this to be cheesy, but really this is what gives the song its charm.

There are places in Microshift that can be taken fully seriously, however.

“The Soft Season” sort of paints a mental portrait of being in a Sunday church service, but if The Beatles were conducting it. It is a single solitary wall of ambiance with the focal point being the organ.

It does not build up to a giant explosive crescendo. There is no concrete song structure. There isn’t even any percussion. There are however some rather psychedelic electronic layers draped over it that keep it intriguing.

The vocals seem to have this soft, otherworldly quality to them that in an odd way is quite soothing to a tired soul.

Microshift is not an album for the average listener at all. This is for someone who wants to be challenged by the music they listen to in some way or another or just want to go on an adventure with something vastly different than what the mainstream provides.

If given a chance with an open mind though, there might just be a gem to discover after all.

Rating: 3.75/5

Stream: Hookworms Microshift

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