San Fransisco's Parker Richard takes you on a guided tour of surreal, syrupy sickly sweet landscapes on Slowdrench.
Maybe it's the uncanny origins of electronic music, but dance music is particularly adept at conjuring images of pristine perfection and unblemished joy. The sounds have never known the rough molecular space of air, never been buffeted by traffic or harassed by passers-by. Synths and drum machines exist in their own platonic sphere, much like gliding down a futuristic Autobahn in a hovercraft, cast in pale blue lighting.
That's why it's always such a surprise and a delight when synths get weird and wonky. After all, we've been living with electronic sounds for around 100 years at this point. We've had time to build up attachments, weird memories and complexes, as evidenced by the warped nostalgia of Boards Of Canada or the British hauntologists.
Slowdrench is a short collection of mostly unrelated songs, each produced in its own environment. Richard jumps from genre to genre over the span of the short six songs, which prevents things from ever getting boring or predictable, which is a common complaint leveled against electronic music of all kinds.
Things start off with "Turr," which is also probably the most lovably weird of the bunch with its powder sugar synths crawling in. It sounds like a ninja raid on Mario's warp level, or the British artist Moon Wiring Club without the trap beats for the four people in existence who that reference will mean something to. "Idle Hands" may be even weirder than "Turr" to be honest, with its warbling, somewhat incoherent vocals. Richard sounds like Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka, made even more sinister, possibly teaming up with Cooger And Dark's Carnival for some Pied Piper action.
Richard proves himself quite capable of making accessible electronica as can be heard on "Suspension" with its swooning, ducking synth pads and skeletal trap beats, with the atmospheric sound of children playing gloriously synched with the rest of the music, like some well-orchestrated paper cutout psychodrama. It's the most Boards of Canada-indebted moment on the album, along with other dreamy electronic pastoralists like Casino Versus Japan and the more recent, updated version known as chillwave.
"Moss" shows Richard to be an adept musician (or sampler) as well, with some Russian folk piano strains, with a really, really tasty beat, that will stomp your fevered brow like a storm on Olympus and zap you with lightning, leaving you trembling and twitching in all the right ways! "Aluminum Raindrops" starts off like a hip-hop banger, only to quickly dissolve into aleatorical squiggles of Day-Glo arpeggiators. It's like army ants making a raid on a marimba, during a lunar eclipse - spare, sparse, the outline of a dance track.
Finally, Richard brings it all back home with "Slept Four Days," which flows nicely from "Aluminum Raindrops" and is another well-realized, high-definition ambient track, on par with Wolfgang Voight's Gas project, if it were smashed together with Seabear or Miles Davis in a concrete bunker.
Richard's music is dreamy, nostalgic and childlike, while also pointing out the unsettling aspects of childhood along the way. Slowdrench is a fever dream, a magick carpet ride through landscapes that have never existed, but may, one day, now that Richard has dreamt them into being. Slowdrench makes the world a more magenta and chartreuse place to live.
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