Album Of The Week: Jeff Parker – Slight Freedom

Jeff Parker
Words via Eremite Records

Slight Freedom, Jeff Parker’s first-ever solo record, presents the first opportunity to hear the guitarist in fully self-revealed circumstances. Recorded 2013 and ’14 in the Hollywood Hills as he relocated from Chicago to Los Angeles, Parker combines the dark tonal palette & percussive attack he’s long been known for with real-time processing elements and field recordings, deftly crafting a unique world of solo guitar music –multilingual, mysterious, alive with extraordinary sonic events, with a sturdy intelligence in charge & a raw homestyle vibe. the record is yet another defining moment for parker in 2016, a year that already includes a brilliant ensemble album (The New Breed) and Tortoise’s 25th anniversary tour & record (The Catastrophist).

Parker’s title composition sets the album’s cavernous mood. Terse lines and ricocheting loops morph into a gnarly ambient section that resembles Neil Young droning out over a vg+ copy of discreet music. parker creates a different sort of ambient space in his take on frank ocean’s ‘Super rRch Kids,’ bending the melody around a bossa nova rhythm into a moodsville tone poem. Parker makes an extraordinary long-form statement out of Chad Taylor’s ‘Mainz,’ a piece he first recorded with Taylor & Chris Lopes on the album Bright Light in Winter. Twice the length of the trio recording, the multi-layered soliloquy finds Parker leaping from the high rung to damn near orchestral heights, pushing his techniques and concepts to their breaking points. it’s one of the great solo performances you’ll hear from a musician this year. To say “Lush Life” comes with formidable baggage is an understatement. Parker achieves instant classic status with a rendition that sounds beamed in from a decommissioned satellite –burned out, covered in space grit, yet still formally nuanced and beautifully reflective of Strayhorn’s world-weary lyrics.  

Twenty years into the game it’s a joy for eremite to present work by an artist who’s clearly taking his music to the next level. 

★★★★☆

Tracklist:

1. Slight Freedom
2. Super Rich Kids
3. Mainz
4. Lush Life

Staff

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