Finally the remix album of William Parker and Hamid Drake's near-classic duet set Piercing the Veil has been released as promised. And it was worth the wait. Organic Grooves is a DJ collective with a host of recordings to their credit; OG is a roving party of personages, mixologists, and turntablist masters that are led by DJ Sasha Crnobrnja (sir-no-burn-jah). It seems he and the Grooves heard the original being spun at Fire Escape in 2001 and approached Aum about the project. The label, who had been planning a remix disc all along, dug the Organic Grooves and so the meeting of sound scientists -- Parker, Drake, and Organic Grooves -- was set. For those worried about Parker and Drake being remixed out of the project, forget it, no such danger. Remember the name is Organic Grooves. From the opening moments of "Gold Weave" (sourced from Piercing the Veil's "Loom Song"), with Parker's bass signaling the intro and establishing a cut-time groove, the transformation is complete. Here, breathing techno streams align with an off-kilter, in-the-pocket house framework. The whole joint is overlaid with Drake's drums pushing the accents in and out of the mix. "...Will Be Unbroken" that comes out of Veil's "Bodies Die/Spirits Live," are ushered in by Drake's eight-beat tom tom move. It's almost incantatory the way it slides out of the pipe and down into the floor of the tune to be underlined by Parker's bass, an alternate synth-drum sample of the snares playing in between the beats, and other sounds floating through the heart of the mix, sometimes randomly, sometimes almost ostinato. It's all rhythm and clicks through the time signatures until a melodica comes winding its way over the top like a snake charmer. Then there's the tabla, frame drum, and shakuhachi introduction of "Chronos Splinter," which comes out of the heart of Veil's "Chuan Tzu's Dream." Crnobrnja and Zeb keep the original dreamy intent by stretching time and groove to maximum elasticity and layering the drums in between keyboard layers with Parker's bass keeping the entire package grounded in the pocket-like breathing. It would be too easy to go into every track here, such are the provocative soundscapes that marry electronica to the soulful innovation of Parker and Drake. But in a sense, this would be missing the point, since it's all about a new language, a new creation from seemingly disparate elements that makes Black Cherry such an astonishing recording. There are fragmentary syntaxes here, from both languages that add up to a multitude of new utterances in rhythm of course, but also in the very place and feel of groove and improvisation. If an improviser creates a work of hypnotic intensity such as Piercing the Veil, and a DJ clips, samples, and spindles the tapes making that improvisational playing something else again, something new that can potentially be changed each time the record is spun in a club setting, doesn't that extend the improvisation endlessly rather than weigh it down simply electronic trappings? Perhaps some improvisers wouldn't be amenable to such practices, but then Parker and Drake aren't merely improvisers, nor are Organic Grooves merely DJs. The former two are part of a living continuum who have stayed close to the street as their music has developed and view sound as a force of life. The latter are cats who see the evolution of electronic music to include all manners of that same force, from blips and beats to the sound of rain, the crash and roll of a rockslide, and the inspired improvisation of a spectacular rhythm duo. They meet in the garden of intention here and become a beatific expanse of new and previously unheard languages in the process. This disc is brilliance personified.
Black Cherry Review
by Thom Jurek