Space Discovery: Hero Dog
Welcome to our new Space Discovery!
It’s been a while, but it’s been worth it, as today we introduce you to “mt. hood”, an inventive lo-fi hip-hop (and not only) EP by Hero Dog.
In just a bit more than 11 minutes, he manages to tell a story through what I like to call impressions – in this case, sonic impressions. Each song is slightly longer than 1 minute, yet in such a short time span Hero Dog conveys complex images of emotions through intense and all telling melodies, giving the listener an impression of each different feeling and memory through an ingenious combination of natural and electronic sounds.
I would define this album as an imagist one, and that wouldn’t be too surprising considering that Hero Dog, aka Aaron Mercado, from San Jose, CA, is not only a producer but also a graphic designer who created his own album art, cassette designs and visuals for the EP. We can tell this artist is used to narrating stories through images and impressions of moments, and he talks about experimenting with both visual and auditory elements in “mt. hood”.
This album was born out of the need to tell stories of childhood and everyday life while capturing the concepts of nature and nostalgia.
Lo-fi’s probably one of the most nostalgia-fitting music genres, but this album doesn’t stop there. Not only is each track a conglomeration of genres ranging from hip-hop to electronica to garage, but Hero Dog also integrated elements of nature in his sound to offer a whole emotional and sensorial experience.
The watery start of the first track, “guts”, gradually becomes glitchy and then turns into music, serving as a great intro for the listener to swoosh straight into the rest of the EP.
“chlorophyll” starts off almost violently, opening with a sawing noise, to then go on to play an irregular rhythm, frantic and yet melancholic, which operates as a beautiful contrast to the more pacifying first track.
“colorblind” has the character of a lo-fi garage song, with sporadic vocals and a chiming piano at odds but at the same time melting with the hectic kick drums.
“echo” has a dilated feel and irregular rhythm which remind of gusts of wind leaving to come back surprisingly a few seconds later, with a more and more sweeping force each time.
Then comes “boy.auto”, the longest track of the EP (1:59 min), with an electronic flavour about it, a marimba-like sound, vocal samples and a thumping bass, more intense than others on both an emotional and sonic level.
Halfway through the album comes “blinding”, a guitar composition which seems to play the role of divider between the first and second part of this EP, standing apart and yet being part of both.
“eyemssu” then carries the energy of a drum n bass track, with echoed laughter in the background which gives it an even more nostalgic feel already expressed through the dream-like, or I would say, memory-like quality of the sound.
“eyemssu 2” is like a slowed down version of the former, with a lower bass and tone, a sort of distorted, blurred sense of nostalgia, but with a hint of detachment compared to “eyemssu”, as if the memories evoked became more and more distant.
“switchblades”, then, busts in with a garage sound, pulsating and rattling, despite staying faithful to its lo-fi base.
“mt. hood” is a guitar under the intermittent rain, which crashes through the brief pauses in sound, filling them up, in a syncopated 54-seconds dance between sound and silence.
“ok, nice” is the perfect title and the perfect track to end this snappy whirlwind of an EP. Its sound is a miscellaneous of all the genres Hero Dog has experimented with before in the album, put together in a swift composition that comes, engulfs you and leaves before you even know it.
Aaron Mercado seems to be an all-round artist to look out for, master of sound, images and timing, fully summed up in this work.