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Parker and Lily
Hello Halo
Orange Recordings

In the world of background rock or soundtrack rock or ambient rock, there has been a huge movement over the last several years, and it has produced some amazing talents along the lines of Tortoise and Mogwai and Portishead. Mesh all the math rock and atmosphere and lounge together and run it through the sound-o-matic and what you hear on the other side may just be the soft and smooth sounds of Parker and Lily. A veritable one-man band, with a girl thrown in for fun and sonic joys, P&L is a sometimes relaxing and always-engaging listen. Background music for the not-so-background background.

"Two Years In The Air" sets the pace for the record with its almost nonexistent music and its understated vocals. Nicely floating guitars and vibey organs comprise the meat of the song. "Mandarin" is almost there even less, with its David Lynch-esque pianos and hint-of-twang guitars. "My Golden Arm" speeds the record up to a driving 76 or so beats per minute, and features for the first time the lovely voice of Lily, as well as some heavily effected steel guitar playing, courtesy of some guy with a keen haircut named Matt. This song is a veritable orgy of tremolo-laced guitar and electronic drums and unintelligible lyrics. Out come the whale song sounds on "P.S.", another chiming and organ-filled slow paced trance track that exudes mystery and headachiness due to the feedback and slidey guitars. If you’ve drifted to sleep by this time in the record, this song is almost certain to wake some part of your consciousness back up. After that (not) brief interlude, "Waitress" brings back the vocals of Parker and is a quick reminder of what can be beautiful in this record rather than headache causing. The modulating Wurlitzer organs are eerily familiar and carry the misting song along on its slow course of music box plinkings and vibes. "Tokyo" is my favorite track, and has very prominent Fall-style vocals that sit atop a nicely arpeggiated guitar line and spooky clown organ. We’re talking Killer Klowns here, man!

The second half of this record is dubbed as songs from the film Winterland. I have no idea what that film is, but I’m certain it would terrify someone as averse to Wizard Of Oz trickery as I am. "Desert Holiday" is like beginning the record all over again, only with drums to accompany the vibes and organs and disembodied vocals. Let it be known that sometimes its good to not understand the words to a song, as I’m sure it would lend an even more sinister air to some of the songs. "Morley" is a continuation of this same abstract horror feeling, with its odd stoppings and startings and feedbackings and vibings. "Only Heartbreak For Me" has the first truly intelligible lyrics on the record, as well as some of the most easily listened to sounds… with the exception of the crazy steel guitar parts that sound almost like sliding brass instruments. Fun and interesting, but not necessarily easy. "The World On Time" is an almost James Bond theme, falling just short of that striven-for goal. What it lacks in spy energy it makes up for in vibe charisma and jazz brush snare, baby. "What’s An Dubliette?" has a beat and some twangy guitars and its rockabilly and space rock and loungishness and everything all at once. In short, it’s good.

The beauty of this record, and this entire music genre for that matter (other than the atmosphere of opium induced splendor), is in the understated elegance of sound structure and the space of what is not there, rather than what is so evidently THERE. P&L make good use of silence and melody both, and are well worth a trance-induced listen. The coolest thing about this record though, is the artwork on the CD itself… and the cool photos inside the cover… and the fact that the music is eerie and easy and hard all at once. On your space/math/ambience rock scale of 1 to 10, 1 being something bad and 10 being Mogwai’s Come On Die Young, P&L sits a comfortable 6 or 7, depending on the time of day. Music to sleep to? For sure! Music to dream nice dreams to? Not so sure….

–David DeVoe

Track Listing:

  1. Two Years In The Air
  2. Mandarin
  3. My Golden Arm
  4. P.S.
  5. Waitress
  6. Tokyo
  7. Desert Holiday
  8. Morley
  9. Only Heartbreak For Me
  10. The World On Time
  11. What’s An Dubliette

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