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Thursday, September 20, 2018

William Parker - Lake Of Light (Gotta Let It Out, 2018) ****½

By Stef Gijssels

Truly great musicians refine their art over the years, and the truly creative ones reinvent themselves. William Parker falls in that category, and with "Lake Of Light", he surprises again, offering us a meditative, strange and beautiful type of music, performed by his Aquasonic waterphone quartet, consisting of Jeff Schlanger and Anne Humanfeld, both visual artists, and Estonian drummer Leonid Galaganov.

A waterphone is a peculiar instrument: "Waterphones are in fact stainless steel and bronze monolithic, one-of-a-kind, acoustic, tonal-friction instruments that utilize water in the interior of their resonators to bend tones and create water echos. In the world family of musical instruments, the Waterphone is between a Tibetian Water Drum, an African Kalimba (thumb piano) and a 16th century Peg or Nail Violin". I am not sure whether this is entirely accurate, but it gives an idea of the sonic possibilities of the instrument. 

The music is exceptional, in the sense that it falls totally beyond any known categories. The little percussive sounds resonate and reverberate in open space, colliding gently with each other in an uncanny rhythmic otherworldly dance, once in a while intense, often built around silence. Like with other endeavours by Parker, the sound is at once spiritual, soulful and deeply rooted in humanity. Eastern gamalan or even Zen music could be a reference, with an almost mystic search for unity and peace of mind, yet at the same time offering a tribal depth that goes back in the deepest origins of man. And then they take all this one gigantic leap further, into absolute modernity: it could equally be considered 'industrial', with metals scraping against each other, or the soundtrack for a 'horror' movie, with eery and ominous sounds projecting a feeling of dread and terror, or music from outer space, captured by as yet to be invented NASA technology. It is soothing and discomforting at the same time, familiar and strange.

This is as far away of Parker's Quartets or Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra, or his duo recordings as you can imagine.

But one thing is sure: it is again an incredibly creative and fascinating listening experience. It makes you doubt, it makes you wonder, it makes you feel differently, it makes you listen differently. No doubt a strong contestant for the Happy New Ears Award.

Listen and download from Bandcamp.