Theo Parrish: Parallel Dimensions
Release Date: 18th May 2004
forthcoming in prefixmag.com
In the ever-evolving world of house music, it’s difficult to remain relevant, and many records have a shelf life of about a year. Last year's hi-hat tones and other samples are quickly bested, new production techniques are established, and some of the most innovative producers in all of music keep things moving forward--producers like Ricardo Villalobos, Luciano and others are busy inventing subgenres that sound like nothing ever created before.
This being said, for an album originally released in 2000 to sound completely relevant today, a producer must be doing something right. This leads us to the world of Theo Parrish, perhaps one of the most influential producers in house music, and the re-release of an absolutely classic record.
Some basic background: Theo Parrish began deejaying at 1986 at the age of 13, influenced and aided by Chicago radio djs and producers such as Larry Heard, Lil’ Louis, Frankie Knuckles, Ron Hardy and Walter “Get Down” Brown. At 14, the beatmaking commenced, and over the years, Parrish’s production sound would evolve into something unique: deep and rhythmic, with a jazz element coupled with distinct Detroit basslines. At present, nearly twenty years on, he’s still actively Djing, remixing and producing. He’s also still residing in Detroit, a city where he has undoubtedly left his mark on its much-touted sound.
Parrish originally released Parallel dimensions on his own label, Sound Signature in 2000. The record was limited to 1000 copies on CD, with no full-length album pressed. Fortunately, for fans of the jazzy, organic and hypnotic sounds of Parrish, the record has not been allowed to slip through the cracks into to become an obscure collector’s item—Ubiquity records has re-released the record; full of organic textures and plodding, hypnotic beats. Its equally beautiful and haunting, with grooves deep enough to lose yourself in completely.
Parallel Dimensions is quite frankly, a masterful record. “Anansies' Dances” relies on ghostly whispered vocal samples serving as a rhythmic element, anchored only by the kick drum and watery background noise. The track then gradually melds into a decidedly lighter piece with the addition of jazzy piano chords. “Serengeti Echoes” starts with a lively disco percussion line, and uses cut-and-paste vocal and string samples drawn out over 12 minutes of tension and release. My favorite track from the album, “Space Ghosts,” is reminiscent of something you would hear from Matthew Herbert: heavily edited synths, cut up hi-hats, static or white noise used as a staccato rhythm element and edited string samples that add a slightly paranoid feel to the song.
Parallel dimensions is an absolutely gorgeous album, albeit one that was nearly relegated to the ebayers and cratediggers. Fortunately, due to the re-release, music aficionados, be they fans of jazz, house, hip-hop or otherwise, will be able to indulge in what is one of the best records I’ve had the pleasure to hear this year.