Wolff Parkinson White: Favours (Colonel Beats Records, 2020)

January 23, 2020 at 9:01 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Wolff Parkinson White: Favours

Jochen Rueckert is a jazz drummer, but he doesn’t lay a finger on his drum sticks when he makes electronic music as Wolff Parkinson White (a project named after a heart disease he’s lived with). Instead, he programs hyper-complex rhythms and harmonics with rapidly changing time signatures, often involving quarter-tone scales. On his Bandcamp, he recommends Venetian Snares’ Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding as well as releases by Vytear and Binray, and this greatly points to his direction — highly intense breakcore and IDM that doesn’t actually use breakbeats, and has no signifiers of rave or club culture. Yet as precise, angular, and sometimes menacing as these tracks are, they’re not gigantic, deeply layered slabs of sound. They’re like a vast, intricate network of wires buzzing at light speed, but there’s plenty of space left between them. On this album, he partially fills that space with a variety of guest vocalists, perhaps most surprisingly including Norah Jones (although she once played in a band with DJ /rupture, so she has at least one other connection to the experimental electronic world). For the most part, the vocals drift smoothly over the electronics — they usually don’t try to imitate the convoluted rhythms. There are moments when Rueckert scatters and dices the vocals, though, particularly “What’s True” and “We Are All Dispersed”. I’ve always appreciated when breakcore/glitch artists manage to incorporate more “musical” or pop-influenced elements and vocals into their work and actually manage to make it work instead of sounding gimmicky. Venetian Snares has done it a few times, maybe you could count Squarepusher’s “My Red Hot Car” (if that doesn’t push the edge of irony), the one album by About approaches that territory… otherwise, good examples are few and far between. Of course Björk has been singing over unconventional rhythms for ages, so that also seems like a precedent for this direction. Anyway, I think it’s pretty obvious that I really appreciate this album. Breakcore and IDM have always been close to my heart, and I love the nerdishly complex side of the genres as much as the more melodic side, so it’s fascinating to hear an accomplished jazz musician approach this realm and make something as human as it is hardcore.

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