Review: Mike Parker and Haiku – Inkblots #3 (Inkblots)

Mike Parker and Haiku: Inkblots #3 – Inkblots

Mike Parker has long had certain marmite qualities. For his many fans, his careful take on electronica is the logical endpoint for a style of techno in which the orchestration of sounds are paramount. For others, this theoretical seeming approach often seems to leave the music sounding strangely dry and lacking in soul. In either case, he is undoubtedly the fulcrum of a scene which encompasses the likes of Developer, Rödhöd, and Truncate – each of them similar masters of precise movement.

Inkblots #3 is essentially a repress of a record from the end of last year that had such a limited release (50 copies) you could easily be forgiven if you missed it. The four tracks are split between Parker and label head Haiku, with both producers furnishing us with their take on a sound that trades on a particular strand of hypnotica – one that makes much of its clean lines and a certain economy of emotional rawness.

Of course, that does not tell the whole story even though it is a useful summation to keep in mind as the record unfolds. Parker’s two tunes, Luminescent Black and Vorticular Movement both make a virtue out of a sort of convention which is not so often heard anymore as techno fractured along evolutionary fault lines created by soaking up near three decades of influence and shifting tastes. While that suggests a certain old-fashioned approach, it isn’t that clear-cut; the simple fact is that both tunes are about as modern as you will find, relying on a sort of aural trickery very few people were doing ten years ago let alone right back at the Big Techno Bang. The music depends heavily not on its own totality, its own overall meaning or emotion, but on the technical details, the interplay of tiny, almost inaudible changes in frequency down in the sub strata.

Vorticular Movement benefits from this approach the most even though, paradoxically, it needs it least. While Luminescent Black finds itself in prime Parker territory, it doesn’t do much but go from one end to the other, eschewing drama for a stately, stout barrage of momentum that is all horizontal and little vertical. Vorticular Movement cuts out much of its predecessor’s superfluous thought processes and lowers itself towards the guts. There isn’t much here other than a kick and a grumpy throb of bass that wavers and wobbles but the effect is more dramatic, delivering a dose of the energy Luminescent Black was sorely in need of.

Haiku’s side of the record is looser, darker, and more brutal, working best as blasts of dense atmosphere. The Blood Splattered Bride, reminiscent of some of the more exploratory 4/4 to come out of LIES over the last couple of years, might be the more functional of the two, but gets the bit between its teeth early. It has some of the same preoccupation with the place of the tiny, tonal shifts that the Parker tunes do, but better sets them to into the music, using them far more overtly as a directional guide.

Showdown At The House Of Blues angles the tune at a deep internal space, stretching out hints of synths with odd wurlitzer colouring and filling them into the spaces between the solid bedrock of the almost tribal kicks. While it lacks something of a killer touch, seemingly happy enough at times to trade its bite for a (very effective) bark, it nevertheless conjures up a potent storm of psycho-electronica.