LOW STOCK LEVEL
Paradise is Robert Hood's debut album release as Floorplan, a dancefloor alias he has used since he announced his Drama imprint with the highly sought-after Funky Souls EP in 1996. Taking Hood's minimal techno approach and embellishing it with elements of house, disco, funk, and gospel, Floorplan now realizes its full-length potential some 17 years since its inception. Good things, indeed, come to those who wait. The last five years have seen Robert Hood in astonishingly prolific form with an album release every year since the 2009 re-issue of the genre defining Minimal Nation. This was swiftly followed a year later by new artist album Omega, then Robert's first live album Omega:Alive in 2011 and 2012's highly-lauded Nighttime World 3 which graced end-of-year charts across the world. Now Robert Hood focuses his attention firmly on the dancefloor. Since the 2010 Funky Souls re-press on Rush Hour re-introduced the hibernating project, Hood has since released three Floorplan EPs including Living It Up, the Sanctified EP, and 2012's Altered Ego EP. The three EPs subsequently spawned the massive club hits "Baby Baby," "We Magnify His Name," "Altered Ego," and "Living it Up," taking Robert Hood's name across the techno/house divide. You could even say that Robert Hood could be a victim of his own success: Floorplan, which started off as a side-project, is starting to sound as vital as the searing minimal techno he releases under his own name. Paradise takes us through a heavenly mixture of house, soul, funk and gospel -- all underpinned by Hood's trademark driving minimal techno approach. "Altered Ego" is a perfect example of Hood's tough view of house music; over an insistent groove a building chord sweeps in, taking with it a repetitive vocal sample. But it's the nagging, relentless filtering of these elements, coupled with the deep resonance of the backing rhythm that make "Ego" so memorable. Tracks like the opening "Let's Ride" take a handful of elements such as a skittering drum pattern, vocal snippet and again that driving and relentless groove that drags you by the throat to the dancefloor. There is no break, there is no respite -- make no mistake, Floorplan is here to make you dance. "Never Grow Old" is pure and simply glorious gospel from the Deep South, a hair-raising vocal hook baptized at the altar of minimalism. Then there is "Confess," which is an entirely different proposition; the groove chugs along and the percussion is dry and steely but the keys are positively uplifting and wide-eyed, like they were borrowed from a long-lost rave track and reapplied to Hood's functional take on house. There are nods to Hood's minimal techno roots with "Change" and "Chord Principle," sounding like they could have been lifted from the Minimal Nation cutting room while "Higher" and "Above the Clouds" appear to be pointing to something new, as if Hood's take on house is as unique and essential as the techno sound he has pioneered for over 20 years. In a world full of generic dancefloor music, Floorplan could well be seen as Robert Hood's vision as seen through a house music prism. But there is never any doubt as to the music's creator.