(All music performed on AquaSonic waterphones)
Felxible Showers of Sound
Lake of Light
Brooklyn, NY, February 2017
Gotta Let It Out GLIO19CD
William Parker needs no introduction but this disc might. It certainly belongs in its own category, connected to yet far from his small band work, the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra, or his Healing Song project (a live performance at Tampere in 2003, complete with dancers and video, was my first exposure to Parker’s music – oof!)
This disc features waterphones and nothing but. And if the broad possibilities of a piece of music are determined by the range and sound of the instrument, this disc is inevitably unique. If, like I was, you’re a little shaky on what exactly a waterphone is, Wikipedia says it’s, “a type of inharmonic acoustic percussion instrument consisting of a stainless steel resonator bowl or pan with a cylindrical neck and bronze rods of different lengths and diameters around the rim of the bowl.” So there. You can shake it, bow it, turn it or tap it and it will screech and scrape eerily (the startling intro to Flexible Showers of Sound, for instance), with long, haunting, vaguely dissonant tones and a range of percussive potential – think of an acoustic theremin and then some.
These waterphone explorations bypass the intellect and speak directly to the heart, soul or any other non-cogitating elements of your person. Shifting Resonance places the listener inside a vast echo chamber and proceeds to bounce them around, from wall to roof to floor, a sense of physical transition embedded in the sound. Purple Heartbeat begins with a cymbal-like call to worship then hypnotises the hapless in order to find the door to freedom. Helium Butterfly is as light as it sounds, floating atop puffs of percussion as lines of luminescence scrape past. The title track is the longest piece and also the most subtle: 16+ minutes of pure mental expansion.
And so it goes. Alien soundscapes from another dimension. Quasi-religious sonic rituals. Avant-garde horror soundtracks. Meditation music for the hallucination crowd. Don’t try to analyse. Just immerse yourself.