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Terrence Parker – Life on The Back 9

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terrence.jpgLabel: Planet EScore: 7/10

The classic Detroit house sound, is not something easily replicated by newcomers to the scene. Maybe it has something to do with the industrial fumes circulating the air of the D, way back when. Though more likely it’s due to those, now ancient bits of hardware, so heavily used back in the late eighties and early nineties. The pieces of kit kids of today can only dream of laying their paws on. That and the musical influences of; gospel, soul, funk and disco. Which had such a profound effect on the era.

Terrence ‘Telephone Man’ Parker, has been active in the house scene for well over twenty years. The nickname references his bizarre choice of headphones – an actual telephone set. Parker’s other quirks come via his stylishly uncommon, turntablism approach to mixing house. His music however, has always remained decidedly familiar.

Utilising Rhodes piano, classic roland drums, emotive strings – when necessary – and not a lot else to make his music. It’s this sense of, back to basics simplicity, coupled with inventive rhythms and melodies, that defines his sound.

What’s interesting about the album’s theme is that it almost didn’t happen. TP was going through a bad patch in his life and was close to quitting music. Then, after a chat with his father, in reference to a golf match he’d partaken in, during which Parker senior had played the worst first nine holes of his life. At the midpoint he calmed himself, prayed and came out strong, going on to perform excellently in the second half. The moral being that even if your having it tough now, you can always turn things around, ‘Don’t give up because you’ve still got the back 9’. And so Parker went onto produce the album off the back of this advice, releasing it with one of Detroit’s defining imprints, Planet E, which the legendary Carl Craig presides over.

Tracks like, ‘God He Is’ make obvious references to the gospel house sound that he’s pioneered throughout his career. Featuring R’n’B style vocals, lyrically centred on a higher being, without alienating any non-believers. His use of the Rhodes keys is spirited, allowing for hugely euphoric moments, as can be found on ‘Open Up Your Spirit’ where again godly words are sung and looped brilliantly. 

This isn’t an album of straight club anthems though. ‘The Friend I Lost’ takes the tempo and mood down a track, bringing in elements of funky bass and soulful chords. It’s patently a song of reminiscence, of good times with a great person. It adds a much needed dynamism to the album concept, of which house producers can sometimes be lost in images of grouping together heads in the air raving tracks.

Closing track, ‘Life On The Back 9’ – an obvious homage to his Fathers advice – springs up Parker’s most inventive arrangements. Mixing string stabs, bounding toms and more melodic strings, with a confusingly enticing swing to it all. It’s a token of him getting his groove back, rediscovering his own rhythms, whoops an all.

For those with both eyes and ears on the future of music, this isn’t going to delight them one bit, but for those with a little less regard for where music is going all the time, who like to look back and appreciate where it and some of it founding members have journeyed, Life On The Back 9 is already a timeless classic.

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