Eddie appears on flutes and piano alongside saxophone giant Evan Parker, Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory, the BBC Concert Orchestra and a stellar cast of British Jazz Musicians, including fellow Loose Tubes colleagues Martin France and Noel Langley, in this extraordinary recreation of maverick composer Basil Kirchin’s music. Will, who is curating the project, has invited Eddie to transcribe and arrange one of Kirchin’s pieces for the collected forces.
When Will Gregory asked me to be involved with the Moog Ensemble I started writing some music for the group which formed the beginnings of this collection of pieces. It became apparent after a while that for practical reasons it wasn’t quite the right music for the group (I have written other music for the ensemble since), but I decided to pursue the idea of my own suite for synthesizers anyway. The notion of a collection of sci-fi scenes – planets with different characters and colours, gradually evolved.
The pieces show off the different kinds of music that have been made on synths. Some of it has a distinctly “radiophonic” feel – neoclassical fanfares, fugal writing etc – that reminds one of sci fi of the 1960s and 70s. Some of it is atmospheric or ambient – conjuring alien landscapes or architecture. There are occasional nods towards the electronic music of the avant garde, and to the dance music of the 1990s.
One of the intriguing things for me about the instrument is that despite its promise of being a new sound, it is in fact quite dated. Some of the sounds are so iconic and evocative that it becomes impossible to shake these associations off. So I decided to use these associations rather than avoid them. The synthesizer has many different traditions, many different colours: as noted above, there is the neo-classical (or more properly neo-baroque) style in many TV soundtracks of the 60s and 70s – for example, Doctor Who of the Jon Pertwee era. Many of the sounds in the original series of Star Trek (the Enterprise going into warp, photon torpedos, various planetary environments) are made on synths. Prog rock made much use of the synth and there are allusions to the style of bands like Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Gentle Giant here too. The synthesizer was a big part of the jazz rock fusion era, and the soundscapes featuring in the music of Weather Report, Herbie Hancock’s HeadHunters, Chick Corea, and others, were created using synth sounds. Stevie Wonder worked with the TONTO team to create his own synth sound world. Later on, with samples and drum loops, another characterisation of the synth came into dance music.
The music of this album can be broadly characterised in three ways: there are “narrative” pieces like the fanfares and “Strange Games”; there are “ambiences”, either of environments or architecture; and there are dance-style “groove” pieces. The compositional approaches vary from the traditional dots-on-paper (“Hindemith Planetia”, “Nu World Synfonie”) method to more improvisatory jazz and dance-music methods (“Angular Momentum”, “Cloud Catcher”). The synth’s ability to create imaginary worlds is explored in an intuitive music concrete way, sometimes using actual sounds from the real world (“Rain Planet”, “Ice World Terraforming”).
Listen out for certain motifs carrying over from piece to piece. This gives a sense of continuity over the 18 pieces that form the suite.
There is a huge dynamic range over the course of the album. Some of the ambient music is very quiet. The synthesizer is an instrument which has the ability to create sounds that hover almost subliminally, and this is unlike any other instrument. I’m hoping that this dynamic range will draw the listener into the sound world of the ExoPlanets Suite.
I’m still exploring the world of the synth: there’s plenty more to come!
Eddie Parker 2016
The Will Gregory Moog Ensemble will be touring June – July 2015. See gig calendar for details. The tour ends with a performance at Barbican London 8th July alongside Charlemagne Palestine. The program will include a new work by Eddie Parker and new arrangements from the soundtrack of A Clockwork Orange.
a beautiful poem about my music by Eugene Skeef
Eddie Parker’s Mister Vertigo is performing at the 606 Club, Lott’s Road, Chelsea, London on Thursday 2nd April. The sextet features Loose Tubes colleagues John Parricelli on guitar, Julian Nicholas on sax, Steve Watts on bass, along with Tiger Lillies Mike Pickering on drums and rising star Matt Robinson on piano.
Cheltenham Jazz Festival photo: Steve Green
Cheltenham Jazz Festival photo: Steve Green
Fresh from Loose Tube’s historic reunion performances at Cheltenham Festival and Ronnie Scott’s Club, during which his new BBC Radio 3 commission “Bright Smoke, Cold Fire” was aired, Eddie here presents what has been the main vehicle for his work in recent years, the sextet Mister Vertigo. With trusted colleagues including Loose Tubes alumni John Parricelli on guitar, Julian Nicholas on sax, and the amazing Kit Downes on keyboards, Eddie explores a smorgasbord of influences including classical music, Brazilian music, rock music, and folk. Intelligent and eclectic, Eddie’s engaging, individual voice appeals to jazz and non-jazz audiences alike.
Loose Tubes will be performing at Brecon Jazz Festival on August 8th 2014. This is the festival’s 30th year and ours too!
Eddie Parker’s Mister Vertigo
Eddie Parker’s Mister Vertigo, April 12th 2014 at the Vortex, Dalston, London. Featuring Kit Downes, piano; John Parricelli, guitar; Julian Nicholas, sax; Mike Pickering, drums; Steve Watts, bass.
Eddie’s 1995 composition for sax quartet, “Cartoons” is to be included on the new release by the Apollo Saxophone Quartet, entitled “Perspectives” and will be amongst the repertoire on their tour of South Africa, April 2014.