We’d be hard pressed to find a producer with as much skin in the game as Theo Parrish. The man takes tremendous pride in his art and the work that goes behind constructing tracks. He’s also a strong proponent of rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dusty in record shops. He’s even said on record: “If you can’t carry two crates of records, you have no business calling yourself a selector”, so it’s clear that he takes his job very seriously. Anyone who’s been fortunate enough to see him work his magic live can attest to how this mentality has paid off. This same ‘slow and steady wins the race’ work ethic is present when he gets in the studio. With the year more than halfway over he’s put out grand total of two solo records, “Any Other Styles” and “Hand Made”, both within a two-month span. The former has been a topic of heated debate, most of it stemming from questions of sound quality or obscurity of the beats. Parrish has never stuck to one specific sound or recording technique so this curveball should not be all that surprising: in fact it’s welcomed in our books. He’s back with “Hand Made” and this time he’s pulled the reigns on the leftfield beast that’s been rearing its head of late for a much more straightforward 12-inch on Gerd Janson’s Running Back.
Stream: Theo Parrish – Black Mist (Extended Version) (Running Back)
The A-side, “Black Mist”, made its first appearance on 2010’s “Sketches” and now it’s back in a lengthier form. After thirty seconds, the word that springs to mind is immediacy. There’s no beating around the bush, Theo goes for the throat with this one. A gritty bassline that can barely hold itself together powers through the first half of the eight-minute epic before slowly deteriorating into a slightly detuned jumble. Masked underneath this is a slightly toy-sounding, polyrhythmic melody, which might sound more prominent while being beat on a proper sound system. To keep the dancer’s chest from completely caving in from bassweight, he mercifully sprinkles breaks in where the kicks and hi-hat shuffles become more pronounce. With this as the A-side, listeners may not make it to the other two cuts for lack of energy afterwards: this is easily one of Theo’s most danceable creations yet.
Then there’s the weird loopy disco of “Pop Off” which is significantly more upbeat and, dare we say, whimsical than the first. In typical Parrish fashion, there is no excess material and the core of the track stays the same for the majority of its seven minutes. Occasionally he’ll throw in clunky drum patterns but nothing to abstract or groove breaking, if anything it just adds to the rhythm. Once again simplicity triumphs over clustered drum patterns. The closer, “Wild Out” (more than likely pronounced wyl-out), sounds more like his recent output than the first two tracks. The name is fitting, as the track resembles a dog without its leash. Fortunately, this dog has had fair amount of training and stays within certain boundaries. Subby, slightly distorted kicks provide a constant backing for his wild keyboard playing. Every so often a wave of sub laden goodness blast through the mix making for a rude awakening just as we begin lose ourselves in the track. Again his surprisingly human drums barely stay in time with the rest of the track, giving something for our ears to latch onto aside from the rumbling of bass bins. In short, this is pure heat and any DJ brave enough to steer his crowd into this territory has our respect.
Stream: Theo Parrish – Pop Off (Running Back)
Another example of why Theo Parrish is one of the best at what he does is because his uncompromising nature leads to some of the most creative music we’ve heard, yet his tracks are still capable of packing a dancefloor. Rather than alienating an entire segment of the crowd his tracks are more than likely to intrigue people, all while they continue to shake their rumps. Wherever he decides to take his music you can be sure we’ll listen, buy, and dance.
Theo Parrish’s Hand Made EP is available now on Running Back.