Its perhaps an unfortunate indication of how conservative the electronic landscape can occasionally be, that an artist as fiercely eclectic as Theo Parrish can elicit widespread derision on the basis of one mild curveball. Indeed, his last 12″ on Sound Signature Any Other Styles stoked up heated debate (not least on LWE’s review; check the review’s comments section) due to its wonky meter and cranky lo-fi aesthetic. But really, since when has Parrish ever stuck to a script, or worried at all about slick production value? As a DJ he can let a crackly 10-minute disco epic run the duration before cutting into raw house without a blink; and as a producer he runs a similarly intense gauntlet, from obtuse soul-derived meanderings to hard-edged bumpers. Indeed, those left bewildered by his more leftfield excursions should perhaps bear in mind that his music is exactly that — music first, “electronic” music (with all the weight of DJ-derived functional expectations and technical obsession that can carry) very much second. However, those left wanting by the abrasion of the aforementioned for some more classicist — and, yes, functional — fare, will find consolation with this record.
“Black Mist” was originally released in shortened form, on 2010’s Sketches. One of the most straight up, dance ready tracks Parrish has ever written, it centers around a booming kick, shuffling click-track hats, and very loud, growling bass. A lock-jawed brute of a track, it offers a compulsive and violent groove for abandoned late-night sessions. “Pop Off” is rather dull by comparison. A shuffling and insipid funk loop is vamped ad nauseum, just about tethered by a weighty kick, but it will take some inventive layering to bring this lumpen block to life. “Wild Out” is far more interesting, offering a skitty selection of weird feedback loops, cavernous off-beat kicks, and a strange assortment of other hi-end angular oddities wending their way through a booty-shaking groove. All in, this 12″ offers an invigorating snapshot of the more floor-orientated dimensions of Theo Parrish — heads-down, compulsive, tricky, not necessarily pretty but always, well, Theo. And while this is not an earth-shattering record, “Black Mist” ensures it’s certainly an imposing one.