THEO PARRISH RABBITHOLE

Said rabbithole having been started by IG followee @paulunits posting some clips from Theo Parrish’s “Footwork” track and video, and declaring the album American Intelligence an “absolute masterpiece,” one of his “favorites of the last decade.” I already knew Theo’s music pretty well, but I didn’t know this album, from 2014:

Listened to “Footwork” three times in a row, first the 11-minute album version, and then the lovely video twice on YouTube, who recommended in all their algorithmic “next up” wisdom Parrish’s 2001 track “Lost Angel,” the B Side of a 12” that has members of the Discogs community leaving pointed comments such as “Repress, please. Repress, please. Repress, please. Repress, please. Repress, please,” or this essentially one-word concrete poem:

“Repreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssssssssssssssssssssss s s s s s s thck sh thck sh thck sh thck sh.” (Weird, I just checked back on the Discogs page and that comment has been removed… swear to you, it was there two weeks ago exactly as it reads here.)

Before “Lost Angel” ended, I was already up at the CD shelf, pulling my first ever Theo Parrish experience, his Parallel Dimensions CD which I ordered brand new from Forced Exposure in the year 2000, strictly because of how much FE seemed to love it… and with a track like “Serengeti Echoes,” how could you not??

Then just a couple tracks later, sprawling out languidly right in the middle of everything else, this 12-minute experience called “Summertime is Here” comes along, really no house beat to be found, a female lead vocal, live saxophone blowing over the top, what is this? Is this even techno? Or is it just what it sounds like, which is sweet lo-fi progressive soul-jazz? Whatever it is, it really did a number on me back in 2000 (and now). (And, as an inveterate reader of liner notes, ‘twas heady to note that the saxophonist on the track Jason Shearer turned up a year later on a free jazz CDR by the Detroit-area Khoury/Shearer/Hall trio.)

But Parallel still ain’t done, more Dimensions to come, rounding itself out with late-album lo-fi extendo-trance majesty like “Violet Green,” which includes live bass and percussion, the percussion supplying something Parrish never misses, that sets him apart from your more standardly dry techno, which is improvisational polyrhythms, what Miles Davis called “a beat in between the beat” because “you gotta get that sound in between”:

Also noting the Parallel Dimension track “Brain Collaboration feat. Marsellus Pittman” has got me thinking of that one 12” which is a collaboration between Parrish, Pittman, and someone else just as good… oh yeah, Alex Omar Smith himself, back in 2006, and the track was “Renaissance” by the T.O.M. Project…

And that reminds me of that one classic episode of What’s in My Bag with Parrish, Pittman, and someone else… looks like Zernell (rhymes with “cool as hell”):

But man, going full circle back to American Intelligence, @paulunits is right, this album is insanely deep, running over two hours on double CD, with almost half of the 15 tracks up around the 10-minute mark, or going right over, like the seriously great CD opener “Drive” (check out these beats within beats within beats):

Bonus rabbithole material (more insulation for the warren, if you will): Theo telling a tour story about a 2014 trip to Dubai. Enjoy, and thanks for “going down the rabbithole” with yours truly, Larry “Fuzz-O” Dolman ;-)