Parks & Wilson

Painting on Silence

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On their first mix album, Painting on Silence, Parks & Wilson deliver what you expect from them. Most people know of Mick Parks and Mick Wilson because of their many productions as Tilt, one of the most well-known names in late-'90s progressive house and trance. As Tilt, the two specialized in meandering progressive house tracks that stretched on for over ten minutes, filled with hypnotic tribal percussion, thundering basslines, a brooding aura of ominousness, and lots of trippy, trance-inflected production flourishes. And that's exactly what you get here. The tracks all clock around the eight- to ten-minute mark and lumber along -- towering overhead yet never picking up too much steam. Furthermore, the tone is dark -- very dark. You can almost sense clouds of somber melancholia, and when there are the occasional moments of human vocals here and there across this double-disc, they often sound despaired and possessed. Parks & Wilson played a role in establishing progressive house's descent into disoriented darkness in the late '90s and they stay true to their aesthetic here. Painting on Silence may feature only a sample of their work (Tilt's "Headstrong," Killahurtz's "West on 27th," a remix of Sleepfreaks' "Chemical Shift"), but it features many producers with a similar sound: Satoshi Tomiie, Sleepfreaks, Breeder, Pete Lazonby, and L.S.G. being the most notable. Unfortunately, Parks & Wilson rarely depart from their trademark style. What's here is some of the era's best progressive house, no doubt. But it'd be nice to see the duo take their set in some other directions, even if only on occasion. You often feel like you're stuck in a vacuum while listening to this mix -- neither the tone nor the tempo ever change, and rarely is there a sign of light or a moment to catch your breath. So, even while it is a wonderful mix, Painting on Silence can feel a little isolating and suffocating, particularly to those not familiar with such foreboding music.

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