sat 24/02/2024

CD: Theo Parrish – American Intelligence | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Theo Parrish – American Intelligence

CD: Theo Parrish – American Intelligence

Theo Parrish's latest offering is strong on songs but overlong

Theo Parrish: less would have been more

Last month, Theo Parrish released his album, American Intelligence, on vinyl and CD. Now it’s available on digital, but make sure you’ve got room on your hard drive – it’s long. Seriously, marathons have been run quicker than the two hours and three minutes here.

Things start well. “Drive” is a long, straight road of a track with all exits barred by stuttering cymbals. It’s compelling stuff, but Parrish, having created an audio autobahn, sticks to 70 all the way – presumably trying to pace himself. “Life Spice” is next and the sample, which sounds like it was cut on a slant, is more in keeping with off-kilter hip hop. You half expect Doom to arrive, rapping about drinking beers with a horse in a deli. Or something. It’s great anyway.

There’s some compelling experimentation: “Tympanic Warfare” features chainsaw synth waves that create chaos, before scuttling sideways looking for shade and sounding like Isolée in a hall of mirrors. The African-influenced “Make No War” builds slowly, but with no attack – a bit like spending a whole game of Risk amassing armies in Australasia before then deciding to turn in for the night. It’s utterly – and unexpectedly – sublime. Meanwhile, “Fallen Funk” results in a beautiful bruise that sounds like Sa-Ra at their very best, and “They’re Here” is wonderfully insistent, shifting and subtly shape-changing.

However some tracks, including the unfinished sounding “Cypher Delight” and “Helmut Lampshade”, scream “experiment” so loudly it’s hard to hear anything else. “Ah” is another case in point – there are some beautiful passages, but it’s 10 minutes long where five would have been excessive. There is, in truth, a fair bit that could be stripped away.

We end, though, on an endorphin high. The Romanthony-esque vocal stylings and jazz inflections of “Be In Yo Self” never sacrifice melody, momentum or immediacy over 13 near-faultless minutes, while the rhythmic, vocal punctuation of “Footwork” drives the conclusion rather than trying to describe it.

Post-race summary? There was no need for this to be a marathon and it lags awfully going into the final third. Trimmed down however, it would be a first-class, middle-distance medal winner.


Overleaf: Watch the video for "Footwork"


Marathons have been run quicker than the two hours and three minutes here


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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