It’s been a day today, as the invoices have landed. Many has been the time when I thought I was merely blinking only to be met with eyelid rebellion when attempting to re-open my eyes. My mind was choosing a cataleptic coma over work. What can I say? My job is thrill-a-minute.
Imagine Les Rallizes Denudes but chilled waaay down, and with a dose of Inutili playing chess with Neil Young, and you might get somewhere close to what this trio do when they’re not trying to make us think they’re a duo with that name of theirs. Albeit Belgian, so for all I know that name is not at all an intended deception, I’m just being a quintessential Little Englander. Again.
I had thought this might be the first time I was using the tag ‘blues’ in all my years of Soundberging, but then I remembered Fink’s Sunday Night Blues Dub thing or whatever he called it, and so I played that again.
It might be the musical accompaniment to my catatonia should perhaps be kicked up to some bangin’ disco? But I don’t like bangin’ disco.
So, you were in the mind of God? Did you actually talk to the Big G?
Well, She popped in for a bit while we were there, before the main tour, but there were quite a few of us and, whilst She looked at all of us and would therefore have Known Us, She didn’t speak to me directly or anything, just addressed us as a whole…
And what did G say?
Well, nothing specific. Just, you know, that we all have many gifts and faculties and to make sure we use them all at their proper time and use them naturally but She didn’t specify what counts as ‘natural.’ But, yeah, as a spiritual experience, it was one worth doing. I’m glad I experienced that. Well worth the travel and accommodation costs. I gave it good feedback on the customer survey.
William Parker was my gateway into jazz. The first album I heard by him was Long Hidden – The Olmec Series which piqued my interest, particularly the 11-minute Pok-A-Tok at a time when I was beginning to enjoy longer pieces on a regular basis. But Double Sunrise Over Neptune was something else again. Technically, it’s a four track album, but seeing as one of those tracks is less than a minute and is essentially banter, I think we can safely say that this is a three track album, the shortest of which is fifteen minutes long.
The reason I like this so much is because it wasn’t even remotely close to my pre-conceptions of jazz. For a start, Parker keeps repeating the same bassline in each piece. They are amongst the most hypnotic basslines ever, circular, weaving, did someone say Ouroboros (the cosmic serpent, not the various metal-ish acts that have used the name over the years)? They are islands of simplicity amongst the whirling maelstrom of ecstatic expression happening around him.
The secret to enjoying this music, for me, was exactly the same as the secret to enjoying Les Rallizes Denudes, bizarrely enough. Use the bassline to anchor your perceptions and let your attention drift in and out to the various expressions being performed by the other voices and instruments. They are many and rapturous, but there is always the bassline to return to. There are ebbs and flows, crescendos and lulls, but always the bassline. (Has anyone noticed I’ve got a thing about bass?)
From here I was able to understand more and more of the jazz approach to musical expression, although my favourite incarnations have always been the long and hypnotic – I think it’s fair to say that that’s largely true of most genres for me these days.
So, I don’t have a handy way of embedding the album or demonstrating the whole thing apart from the opening – and shortest – track. You’ll have to take my word for it, though, that this is a wonderful example of transcendent music across the entire album.
And, whilst finding the things I’ve linked for this post, I let the embedded tune play to it’s end as I wrote the main body of the text. And you know how Youtube automatically selects a next piece for you if you don’t take an active role? Well, I’d never even heard of Ronnie Boykins, but damn…
Something approaching sonic heaven for you, assuming that an admixture of Parson Sound and Les Rallizes Denudes would be your thang…
I’m here to tell you that this is most definitely my thang.
It’s actually quite blissed out, something I need to mention given that you would not always – or maybe ever – categorise Les Rallizes Denudes as blissed out.
‘Music to Watch the Clouds on a Sunny Day’ is in fact the best title they could give it, although I am yet to test the suggestion, what with it being winter, this being the UK, and the few days since I discovered it having very little in the way of sunny. I firmly intend to test it out in the summer, though, if we have one. However, I can say that as I listened to it for the first time on a Thursday morning in the basement office in which I work, the sun did indeed shine through the small horizontal cracks at the top of the wall that we call windows, and the moment was perfect. Hence why I think of this as blissed out.
There’s a bluesy feel to it, too. I’d love to say it’s a bit like Junior Kimbrough in that respect, but it probably isn’t that much, I just wanted an excuse to reference my all time favourite bluesman. Any firmer reference points, answers on a comment please…
I can’t find out much about them beyond they are/were a three piece from Italy.
There’s also a couple of free downloads available, very nearly as good. Their artwork is NSFW in the same way that Acid Mothers Temple artwork is NSFW, although it depends very much on where you work, I suppose.