Michael Hodgson has forged a relentless path in the music world since his early days as Tinnitus, a music & performance art project in Christchurch, New Zealand in the mid 80's, and then as The Projector Mix, an industrial dub project in Auckland in the early 90s. The latter led to him meeting Paddy Free and forming Pitch Black in 1996, since when they have released 5 albums and toured the world numerous times.
Not personally interested in making popular music or following trends, Michael is happiest on the edges, subverting conventional musical structures and echo systems. As such Misled Convoy has become the vehicle for exploring outside of the constraints of his more populist collaboration.
The first Misled Convoy release was a live album recorded at Beautiful Music, Auckland in 1999 and was followed by remixes of a plethora of acts from around the world, including New Zealand supergroup The Adults, London pop punks Feral Five and ambient dub pioneer Banco de Gaia.
Living on opposite sides of the planet since 2012, Pitch Black's last hiatus gave Hodgson the chance to finally record Misled Convoy's studio debut, "Tickling the Dragon's Tail" in 2014. Hailed as "stunning" by Louder than War, it was expectedly dark and dubby, but was also surprisingly groovy in parts with plenty of ambience and noise in there too. The bonus track alone was over an hour long and sounded like a microphone melting in a fire.
Now Misled Convoy is back with the sublime new album "Sixteen Sunsets", alive with sonic ideas and influenced by the multitude of sounds he's gathered as he travels the world. 'Found sounds' recorded in Iceland, Sweden, Turkey, Italy, Croatia, Spain, Greece, England and Austria have been woven together into delicate yet sophisticated pastiches, layered and twisted with beats and melody, leaving the listener to sense the world around. The cicadas of a Greek island, the automated voice of a Stockholm bus, ubber on cobblestones at a Roman roundabout, the unusual chug of a narrowboat on a London canal - all are drenched in effects and underpinned with Hodgson's signature dub and bass.
Five out of the nine tracks feature the emotional harmonies and melodies of young songwriter Ines Dunn. As an established music producer wanting to support and encourage women in the industry, Hodgson has spent time with Ines to show her a different approach to music making. His investment has been repaid in spades, as Dunn's simple touches on the album have added powerful melodic punches in all the right places.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the opening track "Blind Light", with samples referencing the last Misled Convoy album "Tickling the Dragon's Tail". Dunn tickles the keyboard while Hodgson weaves the industrial sounds of a plastic bottle making machine.
The beats and layers grow over the three following tracks until we come to the fifth track, "I am Full of a Thousand Holes", one of the standouts on the new album. In the hands of most modern dance producers, the monstrous bass riff that underpins the track would be rinsed and repeated, ad nauseam, with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. In Hodgson's hands, it slips and slides through the melody, ducking and weaving around the beat, and then, just as the tune reaches its peaks, he drops everything and reduces the track to trails of sound. A dancefloor killer in every sense!
Trails of sound are how Hodgson's music making often begins. After finding a Russian language vowel sounds 7" box set in a charity store, Hodgson researched which nations had sent astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). The 7'' became the vocal bed for the title track "Sixteen Sunsets", which was then augmented with vowel sounds from the other nations who have also inhabited the ISS. The title is inspired by the phenomenon that, every day, due to orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes, the residents of the ISS witness 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets. To complete the concept visually, Hodgson has worked with artist Hamish Macaulay, who also designed his previous two albums.
From the top of the album to the last note an hour later, this is a non-stop sonic journey around our planet from the streets of a metropolis to the mountain tops and valleys where the insects being to hum in the morning sun. It is a journey where the frequencies provide a twisted commentary on our 21st century world, melding organic, industrial, dub and electronica into one beautiful album.
Recommended listening requirements: eye patch, cushion, surround sound and big bass.