John Parish

How Animals Move

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John Parish nearly outdoes himself with the beautiful, elegiac How Animals Move. If it weren't for the fact that basically everything he's turned his hands to has come out golden, one might be surprised. His second solo album is a mostly mournful affair, but its poetic melodies, bubbly textures, and percolating, suspense-packed notes are consistently invigorating. Guest stars like longtime collaborator and friend PJ Harvey, Portishead's Adrian Utley, Giant Sand's Howe Gelb, and vocalists Rose De Wolf and David Donahue add additional magic to the proceedings. How Animals Move is one of those albums that feels like a score to an imaginary film; some weepy, epic, road movie with transcendent emotions. But how many imaginary film scores do a cover of The The? Parish's does, with a subtle take on Matt Johnson's "Shrunken Man" that fits perfectly in with his own compositions. From the opening seconds of the violin solo in "Absolute Beauty Is an Absolute Curse," to the schizophrenic modern jazz amalgamation of"The Florida Recount,"; from the Talk Talk-like "Without Warning His Heart Stopped Beating," to the somber tone poems of "Lord It's a Happy Land," Parish's brilliance continues. The fractured anthemic pop of "Stable Life" contrasts beautifully with the 40-minute mark where PJ Harvey tackles "Airplane Blues" like a Dixieland "fifty-foot queenie." The album stuns with both atmosphere and tension. A little bit of DJ Shadow, a touch of David Holmes, a helping of Woody Guthrie, a hint of Miles Davis improvisation, and a nod to Ry Cooder all come to mind as inspirations for Parish here. It takes a true craftsman to chisel music that's as subtle yet as fascinating as the songs Parish consistently offers. How Animals Move is another wonderful opus from John Parish, and another example of his fine compositions and musical mastery.

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