My Proud Mountain
Reviewed By Michael O'Brien
Well, this isn’t what I was expecting to hear at all.
I’ve been a fan of Parker’s work as a musician and a producer for a while now, and especially for his contributions in Minsk and Buried at Sea. His more recent programming and keyboard work for both Mirrors for Psychic Warfare and Corrections House probably should have given me a hint as to what to expect from his debut solo release, Lash Back, but the variety in his output over the years made certainty impossible.
With Lash Back, Parker offers up a mixture of electronics, experimental, and noise which isn’t really the kind of music that I’m intimately familiar with, I have to say. With that being said, though, I have been finding my tastes moving steadily into the nebulous realms that those three genres exist within over the past year or so, so who better to dive into the deep end with than someone whose work I respect a great deal?
If I’m being honest, it’s taken me a while to click with Lash Back. As keen as I am to expand my musical horizons and find new and exciting things, this kind of music isn't exactly the most accessible stuff going around. I think what took me a while to understand is that the approach I took to absorbing the album was actually the wrong one.
That I came into Lash Back with the expectation that it would be melodically focussed in a traditional rock-oriented way was naïve in retrospect, but once I realised that the melody here is but a small aspect of the greater whole, I finally recognised what it was that Parker was doing with this project and it all made much more sense than it had from the outset.
This is an album that is deeply rooted in texture, atmosphere, and mood, which does indeed sometimes also include a more traditional sense of melody (“Your Feral Blood”, “Psychic Driving” etc), but is more often than not drawn out through the intricacy of the samples and keyboards and the way in which they are layered, looped, and smashed together into a coherent narrative.
It's only after repeated listens that the care with which the album's songs have been crafted begins to slowly become apparent. There's a sense of purpose and meticulousness here that at first is hard to see, with my initial reaction being that the whole thing is a random, noisy shambles. Once it does become clear that there's a steady and purposeful hand on the wheel, though, the subtleties and nuances reveal themselves and make plain the underlying skill with which the compositions have been assembled. At that point, what was once impenetrable and perhaps somewhat obtuse became engaging and alluring in a strangely hypnotic kind of fashion. I can’t quite quantify what it is that keeps bringing me back to this album, but it’s there nonetheless.
I'm not going to pretend that Lash Back will be an album that will appeal to everyone. Hell, if you'd asked me a week ago I would've told you it wasn't for me either. But if you're the adventurous type and are looking for something different to sink your teeth into, this is definitely an album that's well worth a look.