Of Music and Brilliance, the Vision of Evan Parker
EP: There is an American scientist, mathematician or philosopher, Charles Arthur Muses whose views on time appeal to me very much indeed. There is a diagram that comes with his book, Destiny & Control Of Human Systems where he plots the various ways of seeing time above and below an axis future past, conscious and unconscious. At the middle of it is an individual breaking into the so called moment and I think the cliché of the moment is somehow over done. Most of us live in a place inhabited by memories that is also driven by desires. Each of those things can be either conscious or subconscious so the complexities of all of those things make up what I take to be the time in which we live. Any moment of time includes those four axis which is like a compass. Four points of a compass around the moment in time in the conscious moment of time of an individual.... or the being moment in time of an individual. Because, as I've said, above is perhaps conscious but below is unconscious. Ahead is future and behind is past but all of those things are in the being time of an individual. Some of that finds its equivalents in the music and certain techniques can only be developed through repetition.
Certain understandings can only come about through discovery and those understandings can only be reapplied when those insights and techniques are recalled. So the whole notion of being in the moment is a little more complicated than it at first appears. You also have to have somewhere you want to go and that's also in this moment where you live. The future is also in that moment or your view of the future branched as it may be at many different points where a decision needs to be made. That's about it. If anybody wants to know further, they should check out Charles Arthur Muses. A great American philosopher and it's very hard to find his stuff. A very remarkable man, the more you investigate, the more remarkable.
LP: Drummers and bass players can come up with their own language within the context of what's happening in a live situation. What do you look for from drummers and bass players and how much of it has to do with their rhythmic approach with each other?
EP: What I want is a sense that somebody is there to find what the music can be and not to show what they already know although that's a fine distinction. They have to bring something. They have to bring a bunch of stuff with them from the past but be looking to the future. Why do some thing's work and other things don't work too well? I don't know. The questions are about compatibility coming from questions of predisposition's, preferences, tastes, styles and congruence. Some people sound great on their own but you put two of them together and they sort of cancel out one another. Some people understand the mechanisms of cancellations well enough so that doesn't happen. That's what keeps it interesting. I have nothing against routine if people want to bring routine but someone has to come fresh. Stay alive. They have to be in that moment where anything can happen or feel that anything can happen. The stuff you bring is just the place to start from. It's the stuff you discover that's the reason for going there.
LP: Where does your inspiration come from or what influences your creativity?
EP: You know, that varies at different times but I tend not to listen to other improvised music on record. I'm so busy with my own stuff and with the things that I would like to issue on my label that I don't really get a chance to listen to what is going on very properly. And the explosion of the exponential growth of recordings of improvised music also makes it very difficult to have a very good overview of the whole thing. Subsequently, I rely on recommendations from other people but if I hear people playing live that impress me, I may go back and look for some recordings. Outside of that, as a record collector, I would say that I more or less only collect ethnic classical recordings, field recordings from other cultures, especially endangered cultures. Those of course can be a source of amazement, absolute amazement. But then again, a donkey with a big load of records on his back is still a donkey. I have some good records of what they call ethnic music. Ethnic music, where did this term get started? I'm interested in music from endangered cultures, minority cultures, known global cultures. I'm not especially interested in world music once it's been pasteurized, homogenized and served up, re-served up; then I'm not so interested. I'm interested in the real field recordings from Folkways onward. That's the kind of stuff I collect.
LP: What do you envision the future of creative music to be and for yourself personally?