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CD Feature/ Jair Rohm Parker Wells: "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam"

img  Tobias

In the context of classical music, the ouverture is to be seen as the microcosm of the entire work, as the seed from which the music springs and as an introduction to the themes and motives of the ensuing hours of enjoyment. So with an album entitled “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam”, which Parker-Wells is happy to announce as a miniature version of his magnum opus, maybe the majestic opener “A.L.M.” can be regarded in the same light: An oriental percussion- and shaker-groove trudges the sunburnt dunes deliriously, skyblue clouds of synth dabbers ascend to heaven and a rubbery bass treads carefully but with firm intent, before the hot wind dislodges grains of saind into a hazy and suspenseful miniature windhose and nothing remains but tortured frequencies in a hollow dome. If the message of this piece is that nothing is impossible here, then, yes, this can be seen as a modern-day succesor of opera.

Except the vocals, of course, for it is the bass which takes centerstage. Having worked with everyone from Dr. Alban to Reeves Gabrels and grazed and graced the lands of pop and “exquisite noise”, Parker Wells has arrived at a point where genres cease to exist, predictions fail and instruments loose their ancestral positions. It is true on the one hand that “AMDG” is just as much an album of electronics as of “natural acoustics” and on many occasions appears to have been given birth to by the pairing of an effect processor and a jazz group. There is aggressive knob fiddling and obvious sound manipulation around every corner, as are a plethora of processed material, which suddenly takes on an entirely new meaning and a strangely radiating ambiance. But even though there is only one man playigng here (disregarding some assistance on the nervously brimming “Annexing of Jane”), it always seems like a real band is at work, as though each element reacts to the other in a biological, not a mechanical way. Of course, this is more easily recognisable in the opening tetraptych, where the bass either plays in solo mode (the vulnerable and yet powerfully spaceous reverberations of “Improbable Cause, Likely Effect”) or accompanies pixilated electronica (in the astutely titled “In Theory there is no difference between theory and practise, in practise there is”). But it just as much counts for a twelve minute soundscape like “To Morning Sea Explore”, where melodies are still present, but appear in a mangled form, as if pressed through a tight tunnel by almost exploding hornists. Stylistically, all borders have been torn down: Drones, Noise, Jazz, World Music, Abstractions, Industrial, Clicks and Cuts – they’re all there in some way or the other, still clearly recognisable but without their usual defined areas.

Is “AMDG” a confronting album? Yes, probably. You will need to be able to handle a bit of push and shove to appreciate it, as well as a basic willingness to be disturbed by several rounds of wild mood swings. On the other hand, it has a lot to offer as well: Multifold sceneries, surprising combinations and arrangements, a strange but seductive kind of beauty and a sense of adventure. Designed to be bigger than life, it holds every single one of its promises, even if you may find them hard to swallow – coming to a concert hall near you in the hopefully not too distant future!

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Jair Rohm Parker Wells at MySpace
Homepage: Klanggold Records

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