Hoops = Nick Drake + Pierre Schaeffer
Local avant-garde act Hoops brings something new and fresh to our local community with his musique concrète affinity. There’s not much of this music being produced anymore, let alone in our immediate surroundings, but Hoops keeps trekking on, and that alone should be commended. His latest release, Honeysuckles, continues this thread by presenting timbral anomalies with each track, but never steps too far outside of the realm of the experimental palette that he enjoys.
The opening track sets the tone for the rest of the album by presenting the theme that runs throughout the record. On this piece, Hoops narrates a story about children eating an old man’s honeysuckles. However, the running theme is how the story is assisted and magnified by his use of field recordings and electronic manipulation, while the more traditional instrument (acoustic guitar) simply serves to set the scene for the story that is unfolding. This “tone painting” technique is exhausted on “No Shelter for a Kitty Cat.” On this song, the use of manipulated field recordings and electronics is more brazen than in any other track on the album. The lo-fi rain and sirens samples are reminiscent of Edgard Varèse and Iannis Xenakis, but the vocal technique and the acoustic guitar ambiance are what set Hoops apart from these electronic music pioneers.
The final track on the album, “On the Sleepy Side of Things,” is the most obviously avant-garde work on this collection. The song begins with a lullaby-ish vocal melody, accompanied by an electric guitar, bass and electronic drumbeat. The song then ends with a minute of yawning and two minutes of snoring while the drumbeat continues on. This leads me to believe that a live Hoops show should be something to make an effort to attend in order to get a different musical experience that will surely verge on performance art. You can download Honeysuckles free of charge over at hoops23.bandcamp.com and continue to support our local avant-garde/experimental scene, which, due to lack of representation, could use some support from all of us. –Arcadio Rodriguez