- Spencer Parker's newest EP for Rekids may be less driving than some of his other productions like "The Beginning" and "Zanzibar," but this release is instead about extended night-drive grooves, airy and suspended. The piano leads the way, both melodically and rhythmically. While the instrument is put to use in an unmistakably jazzy manner, it's done in much more of a Monk/Ellington vein than one might initially expect, as the jazz influences that dance music usually adopts are normally much less wonky and syncopated. Parker's tunes here show how dance music secretly owes its rollicking rhythms in part to classic jazz recordings like Duke's own gritty, cavernous, "Money Jungle."
"The Improvised Minotaur" is a sexy, suspenseful builder, opening with a deft, thunderous tom riff that gives the track much of its hypnotic swerve. The main bass-clef piano stride gathers enough momentum that you don't notice the absence of a kick pulse until it suddenly punches things into high gear. The tune's overall arc has a vehicular feel: the first piano figure slinks up behind the opening beats like it's passing them on the autobahn; the same goes for the piano melody that slides into the tune's upper space halfway through. Suddenly the piano line springs out of the groove in full, with a jerky, syncopated pirouette that would make Monk proud.
The flip, "Girl in Pink," drags a bit, lacking the full allure of its counterpart. But there's a number of aural delights here as well, foremost being the floating, verb-ed out flutter of treble keys sprinkled over a standard-issue vocal blip whose clipped, percussive pop is the tune's backbone. When the beat kicks back in following a mid-track breakdown, the bass stays locked in the dominant tone instead of resolving back to the tonic, keeping the entire track in a heightened state of anticipation, in sync with the tease that the samba-jazz sample, diced throughout the track into slivers, carries out when it pops out suddenly through the mix. A woman singer is heard—but only for an instant—before vanishing back behind the electronic curtain.
A The Improvised Minotaur
B The Girls In Pink