Deantoni Parks is an incredible drummer – he’s worked with a diverse range of artists too, from Sade to Mars Volta, via John Cale and Flying Lotus. He’s more than just a drummer as showcased here, in fact Technoself, his latest solo album is essentially a showcase for what you can do at the drums, with a hands-free approach to beat-making, juggling, sampling…
In an explosive, virtuosic display of pat-your-head/rub-your-tummy antics, this is an entire album of Parks at the kit with one hand on the keys triggering and layering samples as he grooves on bass, hi-hat and snare around clipped, broken and sometimes downright-destroyed fragments of pop songs or run-on grooves that traverse R’n’B, pop, blues, hip-hop and trance, slurring their way through any of the gaps.
That means that Technoself is more showcase than album, it starts off with a hooky-enough groove piece, Black Axioms, but the slow set of false-starts that brings in Our Shadows means that for every clever, funny, astounding piece where Parks has transcended the notion of one-man-band there are (occasionally painful) reminders that this is also beats and pieces formed (sometimes barely) by one man playing a drum-kit one-handed whilst beavering away at the sampler.
Still, to my ears it’s mostly astounding. Helps, perhaps, that I’ve been won-over by Parks’ playing on record and live before. Maybe that gives me a head-start in some sense, though I doubt many will be aiming to take the full plunge into a record like this without first being prepared.
And look there’s some fucking magic here I tell you. The very cool – and extremely incongruous – sampling of just a second or two of James Taylor singing and playing acoustic guitar for a groove called Road. The way that Graphite hits with the force of Bad Brains via The Roots, or Methodist with its Aphex Twin-in-minimalist-mode mood and Bombay – a study in virtuosity and something brutally annoying as a clipped vocal phrase and thunderous bass drum meets quick fire rimshots. The effect is one of dazzling Tabla playing and call and response vocals at warp-speed, hey but only if you’re a drummer or interested in drums and breaks-music.
It’s so incredible – most of the time. But it might drive anyone else around the twist.