Hero Dog - mt.hood (Album Review)

Some people can't understand why Seinfeld ended at the height of its popularity. The sitcom, widely regarded as the best of the '90s, ended when its writers and producers decided it was best to bow out while still on top. Brevity is often underestimated and underutilized in artistic works. Perhaps this stems from the perception that something brief is insubstantial, a quantity-over-quality mentality that results from our indoctrination into capitalism.  

One artist who understands the power of the precise is San Josean sonic wizard Aaron Mercado, who releases resplendently chaotic music under the pseudonym Hero Dog. His first release under that name is mt.hood, a hyperactive and technically accomplished collection of 11 short, mostly-instrumental pieces. In less than a quarter-of-an-hour, Mercado rewires the listener's brain, drawing them into the present with short attention-span-friendly bursts of melodically rich and rhythmically complex music.


For all the lo-fi instrumental study beats shtick currently omnipresent on the internet, Hero Dog injects a real sense of human immediacy into their efforts. This immediacy comes from various approaches, the addictive sonic breaths of "echo", the delicious ambient hip hop of "switchblades", the heavily-EQ'd drum pattern and vertiginous keys of "eyemssu", the loveable production and repetitive ostinato of "chlorophyll", or the beauteous upsurge of "blinding" which contrasts pensive and tight electronica with the sentimentality of emo driven guitar patterns. 


The longest track on the album, the cool "boy.auto", pushes the boat to an entire one-minute and 59 seconds of asynchronous instrumentation and odd vocal samples. The title track, "mt.hood", uses acoustic guitar samples and a fatally-loud kick that takes over the mix whenever it sporadically hits. "ok, nice" has a shoulders-back swagger and closes the collection with a mood as carefree as its title suggests. 

Although none of these tracks reach the two-minute mark, and all fade out just as soon as they get going, their brevity is warranted by the Byzantine arrangements and enervating impact they possess. Had these beats been fleshed-out even further, they could have been exhausting on the ear. But instead, Mercado is adept at knowing when to leave well enough alone and how to leave the audience wanting more.