Album: Astral Disaster
Released: 31 October 2012
Stephen Parsick hears the call of the wild, and answers it. His concert CD Astral Disaster (76'28") plays like a souped-up rebuild of Ricochet or Departure From the Northern Wasteland. Answering The Berlin School's challenge Stephen Parsick and his 'ramp project ratchets up the dramatic tension, nearly matching the intensity of his previous Steel and Steam (2011). Sections of this album extend further into sequencer darkness than even Parsick's closest contemporary (Mark Shreeve and his impressive Redshift project). But to prolong the comparison would undermine Parsick's achievement. Surging and dangerously thrilling Astral Disaster holds us in its grip. The first of two ample live pieces begins with strange drones and an amassing density. Here the composer shows his teeth as sets of deep tones build into complex multi-layered sequencer patterns. Running at full-tilt the bass notes nearly blast out of the speakers - burning in a warm distortion. Gentle electric piano melodies and classic Mellotron voices somehow soften this section's expanding motorized pulse. And with so many rhythms being introduced, brightened, altered and then dormanted the piece never wants for much more in the way of melody. The program concludes with an ascent into brighter territory with crystalline notes echoing through cosmic voices. Parsick focuses the concert program's second half on a more gentle gravity - meant to open vast new spaces within the listener. As a sustaining abstract landscape haunts the soundfield, Parsick works his strange and mysterious spell. Well into this floating zone we sense the engine again turning over. Heightening this work's urgency the sequencer lines gradually run bigger, brighter and bolder - yet the closing moments reveal a tenderness that seemed impossible in the earlier thunder. Never less than intriguing Astral Disaster is not like anything else we will hear this year. Delving deeper into his musical obsessions Stephen Parsick has crafted an album that captures the careening, adventurous spirit of the 1970s without ever seeming overly retro. Astral Disaster, and the concert it was taken from, feels fully willed and artfully conceived.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 6 December 2012
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