Andrea Parker

Andrea Parker

Kiss My Arp

Mo Wax Labels

Perhaps if we went back in time and kept Julee Cruise from sing/humming over Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks theme, today’s listeners would be spared the glut of electronic wallpaper masquerading as music. The formula — strictly adhered to — requires a room full of keyboards, samplers, sequencers and drum machines, a stool and one microphone in front of which sits a woman whose vocal style was learned as she exhaled cigarette smoke. Once the machines start, nearly inaudible sounds are released from said female that sound pretty, breathy and vaguely erotic, but say nothing. Repeat at slightly different tempos six or seven times, and you have half an album. Remove the vocals, remix the tracks (adding a burst of distorted guitar is generally the trick), and the record is finished.

From Portishead to Massive Attack, and on and forever on, there is simply too much of this stuff out to attempt to keep track of. Devoid of melodies, analog instruments, or any improvisation, these are not so much songs as measured chunks of sound time – most effective in television car ads, but not much else. While similar objections were raised in the early days of Elvis and rock and roll, (“It’s not music”), if you go into a bar in any town on a Friday night, somebody will be playing “Blue Suede Shoes,” almost 50 years after the fact. Why? Because any goof with a guitar or a piano — okay, any tunable instrument — can play the melody. To recreate the sounds of Andrea Parker and her ilk requires the same machines used to record it in the first place, and that’s not playing music, it’s pressing the button on a Xerox copier. Perfect for what it is — a collection of sounds and tempos arranged in a manner enjoyable as background ambiance or dancehall soundtrack, yes. As for music? That emperor has no clothes.

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