Multi-Instrumentalist/composer Andrea Parkins plays a significant role within the adventurous, often cutting edge New York City Downtown scene. Here, along with fellow New York Downtown constituents, Kenny Wolleson (d) and Briggan Krauss (saxophones), Parkins continues her unique conceptual approaches with the follow up to her previous Knitting Factory release “Cast Iron Fact”.
On “Slippage”, Parkins pays a bit more attention to compositional and thematic development in contrast to “Cast Iron Fact” which dealt more with “free” improvisation and placed more emphasis on abstractions, disparate sounds and unorthodox voicings. An interesting approach, which worked well; however, Parkins and company seem to convey a bit more self-assurance and focus on this new release. “Slippage” does not forgo the exploratory dialogue and improvisational techniques utilized in “Cast Iron Fact”; however, the compositions are slightly more structured and attain a richer balance of continuity and direction. Ultimately, the overall flow fares well on this project.
The opener, “Remarkable Spectacle of a Frozen Cataract” features Ms. Parkins on sampler and piano. The music is fitting for such a bizarre notion of witnessing a frozen cataract and sounds menacing or perhaps even scientific. “Local Cosmography” is at times surrealistic as Parkins utilizes her sampler to invoke circus-like themes. The title cut “Slippage” is a free jazz piece where Parkins’ piano work treads waters that touch on Cecil Taylor and features creative and spunky dialogue with saxophonist Briggan Krauss. Kenny Wolleson’s drumming fills in the gaps and generates off meter tempos to offset the conversational motifs between Parkins and Krauss. “Beautiful Animal” features Krauss’ furious clarinet work as he paints a vivid picture to coincide with Parkins’ brief fragmented statements on the piano. The overall tone of this composition appears to mimic a chamber-esque like environment as the recurring theme provides the foundation for otherworldly forays into meaningful yet rampant dialogue. On “Early TV”, Parkins picks up the accordion as this tune summons imagery of TV pioneer and funnyman Milton Berle’s goofy slapstick routines or the comedic banter of Sid Caesar. “Early TV” is a gas! The playful nature hints at comedic TV in the 1950’s as Parkins explodes with gobs of imagery and clearly engages her innermost thoughts and creative wherewithal. Here, the movements segue into a fantastic ambient-electronic interlude, which could draw some comparisons to some of the well-known Germanic gods of electronica ala Cluster or Peter Namlook. Here, the band deterministically portray the increasing presence of Television in our lives, as Wolleson moves forward with a straight-four style backbeat. The main theme resurfaces and serves as the finale or coda. “Lost Lure” is a hard-edged rocker as Krauss shows commanding presence with his baritone sax. Parkins goes it alone on the solo piano piece titled “Capture” complete with huge block chords, thematic developments that hit you in spurts and an overall inquisitive style of play as detected by the linear voicings in her compositional evolution. The final track, “Story Of An Eye” (you have to love these titles) features more sampler articulations that once again straddle a quasi ambient-electronic feel, complete with firm backbeats and Parkins subtle accordion maneuvers which adds a dash of nuance.
Andrea Parkins hits the mark with Slippage as she mirrors concepts and styles that may seem familiar yet her patented artistic voice serves as the focal point and the results are imminently rewarding. Also, Ms. Parkins reaps numerous benefits from her equally gifted peers, Briggan Krauss and Kenny Wolleson. Recommended with **** out of 5 stars.