Contrasts and Adaptations

From sporadic appearances with the likes of Current 93, Wooden Wands and Six Organs of Admittance, to his forays into outdoor recording and junk percussion, Keith Wood is constantly changing and adapting to the landscape around him — he’s not afraid to try anything new.

Wood’s eclectic tastes are reflected in Hush Arbors’ latest album, which lurches between the squealing synthesisers of Water, to the interference-laden strumming of Gone, via sombre lyrics such as: “So I go to the mountains and carry with me/ The bones and dust that I’ve found, that exist within.” The downbeat strains of Follow Closely are in Wood’s opinion, uncharacteristic of his own writing. On comparisons between his collaborations and his work with fellow Hush member, Leon Dufficy, Wood maintains: “I like to think I’m a bit more optimistic, there are similarities, but I’ve always liked playing all sorts of music. It’s just what I’ve done.” And so his eclecticism becomes an important feature to set the work of Hush apart from previous ventures.

The recording process is an evolutionary and organic process for Wood, “Rue Hollow is basically just one track with three different microphones in the room, all recorded in the same afternoon. While recording Gone, I played every single instrument, and so we just kind of layered and layered and layered.” Each track is approached as a fresh challenge, and a fresh site for play and experimentation, including the use of any available percussion-style improvisation, “the junk percussion is exactly what it is, it just involves me being impatient and wanting to get all ideas down at once. I normally like to record a whole song in one recording.” Wood would use, for example, “a Chinese tea container with rice in it” in place of bongo drums: “I always work with what I have.”

While part of his music’s evolution comes from Wood’s own con­scious playfulness, he also admits to technological advancements having an effect on both his work and its reception, “the records have evolved from the recording equipment. The evolution is a growing process, more and more you just do something and you get more toys. I would hope to think that I’ve gotten better at recording.” Hush Arbors still record some work outside the home of Woods’ parents in Virginia, USA. However, to maintain their “murky, kind of earthy recordings, a lot of the album was recorded outside, so it wasn’t originally intended to have third sounds in, but it just sort of evolved from there.”

Adding to the ethereal quality of these outside recordings, Wood commissioned his girlfriend’s artwork featuring “a shot of me on my roof, which is kind of collaged from photos from other places” and a conglomeration of clues and codes of “people who have greatly inspired me,” an idea which works succinctly with Wood’s collaborative and varied efforts both within and outside the band.

The self-titled album is out now on Ecstatic Peace.

Ruby Beesley