August 1996 – EP reviews – Andrea Parker’s ‘The Rocking Chair’ (“sounds like the dark shadow of club culture”)

5 Aug

Andrea Parker: 'The Rocking Chair'

Andrea Parker: ‘The Rocking Chair’

The club’s gone cold and the dancing has come to a halt. Something’s lurking in the chill-out room, and the chill’s gone down several notches.

The word was that Andrea Parker‘s ‘The Rocking Chair’ was the missing link between Goldie, Mahler and Kate Bush. It’s not quite like that. You could think of Cranes at their most ornate and ambitious (and a couple of merciful octaves lower), you could think of a decidedly deeper Portishead or, at a pinch, Bjork’s Play Dead, but you’d have to add the loomingness of prime Dead Can Dance, or Gorecki’s weight of suffering. There’s no dance beat whatsoever, though the seismic bassiness sounds like the dark shadow of club culture. No trancey twinkles, even. Just that bleak blood-smudged thread of vocal. And the slow-motion-nightmare modern-classical strings, strings, strings, all swallowed up in a huge cavern of electronic space and suffocatingly close reverb.

Bloody moody. Bloody scary. Try playing this sucker to a crowd of E’d-up ravers at Heaven. Shivering wrecks four-deep on the floor, I think.

The Rocking Chair has an overwhelming horror-bound beauty. Like a swelling, building mushroom cloud, or the spume of the avalanche as it blots out your sun for good. But what’s it all about? Andrea is singing as if she was stretched flat on her back in a coffin, with an eerily drained and colourless calmness to her voice. It sounds like a paean to nothing; to a kind of amnesia where memories stay and it’s the present that’s blanked out. And only flashes of coherence seep from those lips: “so far in the distance, yet so close to my heart.” All I know is that what I can hear – quiet, and far off in the distance – are what sound like blades being sharpened. And Andrea’s singing “Behind you…”

I suppose I should tell you that you get a thirty-five-minute suite for your money. There are two remixes. Attica Blues‘ DR55 Mix drapes Andrea in drivelling pianos over runaway tango-tinsel techno and human-beatboxing. The Major Force West one adds twangs, sitars and ‘Doctor Who’ radiophonic burbles to take her off to one of those space-age batchelor pads. There’s a little spinback track to give another nod to the clubbers. There’s a strings-only version for the Michael Nyman fans. Quality control is at an all-time high, but none of them really alter the impact of the original.

If this is the reputed great club-generation comedown, I want to be watching from the other side of the room. The terrible beauty of something ending, and a genuine frightener. Who is this Ms. Parker? What huge, hungry night skies hang in her mind’s eye? Well, until I find out…

I want more. Now.

I demand my terminal tape loop.

Andrea Parker: ‘The Rocking Chair’
Mo’Wax Recordings/A&M Records. MW045CD/S (7 31458 15692 5)
CD/12-inch vinyl EP
5th August 1996
Get it from: (2020 update) Best obtained second-hand.
Andrea Parker online:
Homepage Facebook Twitter MySpace Soundcloud Bandcamp Last FM Apple Music YouTube Deezer Google Play Pandora Spotify Amazon Music

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