This music makes me happy although it obviously wasn´t programmed with this intention in mind (or was it?). It kind of coddles more crazy, mere hidden areas of my mind. These are some serious Aphex Twin/Squarepusher/Autechre level Frickel-skills, but in terms of artistic freedom, achieved anarchy and Neue Musik/Wyschnegradsky Abfucklevel I actually prefer this album over the famous pioneers (mainstream/hitfactory-producers in comparison).
Favorite track: forlorn.
"forlorn" is the latest release by NYC -based jazz drummer Jochen Rueckert's electronic project "Wolff Parkinson White", an extremely rewarding album, if you make it past the first two minutes.
Picking up where 2010's release "rest from what" left off, the album draws heavily from rapid-fire digitally generated or processed sound we are familiar with from artists like Autechre and Aphex Twin, as well as highly complex rhythmic structures, as introduced to the genre by Venetian Snares, pushing the limit even further with ever-changing subdivisions, superimpositions and metric modulations. Limited to programming only on his cheap laptop, often during downtime while on tour- "forlorn" pushes the envelope by taking the possibilities of audio processing to the very extreme. The fact that the artist is actually a well trained musician rewards the listener with a multifaceted harmonic and melodic richness, an element sadly non-existent in contemporary electronic music.
Touched upon on its predecessor, the new album is set entirely in the quarter tone scale explored by various 20th century composers such as Charles Ives and Krzysztof Penderecki, without lacking a somewhat followable song structure.
The name "Wolff Parkinson White" is taken from a heart condition that the artist had the pleasure to be born with.
The album opens with the title track, a relaxed song set in a moderate Allegro, going along with a relatively uncomplex 13/4 time signature, hinting at increased age, less desire to prove himself and reduced intake of amphetamines by the composer. After somebody sings about being a fool, a ritardando and metric modulation from quarter note triplets to quarter notes every 2 bars evokes an ever slowing downward spiral, though every cycle results in the original tempo, like a dog biting its own tail, moved along by a pleasant little keyboard line holding it all together.
"with someone going nowhere" starts off seemingly out of time but soon a repeating quarter-tone arpeggio outlines a 15/8 form divided into 4,4,4 and 3 eight notes. Somewhat reminiscent of a popular i-VI-iv-V chord progression, the entering sequence lets the percussive element rest momentarily,its return cleverly masks the now well established time signature. A simplified chord sequence orchestrated in a warm factory preset sets the backdrop for some ambitious alternative rock singing which culminates in a disturbing ending set in an unapologetic 4/4.
"then, nothing happens" 's opening chord sequence soon is adorned by a cycle of 6/4, 5/4, 4/4 and 5/4, each stretched onto each chord of equal length. Reminiscent of the opening song of "rest from what" - the underlying mathematical principle extends itself later to 6-7-6-5 and even 6-7-8-7, all accompanied by lush arpeggi running in major, minor and in between thirds and sixths evoking a circus-music-like feeling that is sorely missing in contemporary electronic music these days.
"Fabio/Fabio" evolves from a bass ostinato outlining a 7/8, 7/8, 9/8 cycle, playfully sidestepping the major or minor third in quarter tones, hence obscuring the gender of the underlying key signature. Reminiscent of early 2000's Venetian Snares' programming, the more drum-and-bass type sections of the song suggest a nostalgic yearning for simpler times. A sample of a song from 1903 at the end is cut off at its saddest part, "Nacht und Schatten um uns beide".
"Auto-Lust", a title best understood with basic knowledge of German, is a tour de force of micro-looping sound with or without unchaining the pitch of repeated sound from the modification of speed of repetition. Set in electronic music's second favourite meter, 7/4, the song's middle section resembles a garbage disposal of modern dance music's clichés and the the melody in the obligatory mellow section sounds just a little bit too much like the theme song to "trailer park boys".
"Ben Street loves drinking Yellowtail”, starting off as the mandatory "mellow" song of the album, navigates some interesting quarter tone harmony with several synths oscillating in intervals. Morphing into a more ambient situation, the rest of the song represents some of the more disturbing aspects of the album
"forever winter" is based on a chord structure that transposes one quarter tone down every 8 bars of 5/4. Mangled drum sounds outline a similarly deflating effect, switching from straight eight note to triplet feel halfway through the cycle, the tempo slowing from 400 bpm to 266.66 bpm in the meantime, just to jump back to 400 bpm, seamlessly modulating the triplets back to eight notes, the composer obviously hellbent on having nobody know what's going on throughout the song rhythmically, as to not draw attention away from the feeling of eternal deceleration throughout the song.
"one third heartbroken" highlights the composer's ability to not only create a beautiful melody in quarter tones, but also to program himself into a corner. As his way out of the stagnant repetition he blatantly superimposes 7/4 and eventually 9/8 over the already unintelligible 17/16th meter the song is originally set in.
Using the dotted eight note as means of throwing off the listener, "sell already" is set in 23/8. After a mere 3 and a half minutes, a few consecutive quarter notes in the bass drum part reveal a 5/4 and 11/8 division.. There might be many copyright violations here, or not.
Music critics are welcome to claim to have figured the time signatures out by themselves, though one should not expect any increased female (replace with “male” depending on critic’s gender and sexual orientation) attention from doing so.
released March 6, 2012
programmed, written, produced, mastered, designed and photographed by Jochen Rueckert
Wolff Parkinson White programs hard-to listen-to electronic music since 2007, often described as "Venetian Snares for the
less harmonically challenged" and "this confuses me". The moniker refers to the innate heart disease he had the pleasure to live with, there are no songs in 4/4, but many involving the quarter-tone- scale....more