I don’t know how these musicians manage to do all this, Duncan Parsons is not only the drummer for the John Hackett Band, he is also the bass player for author Joanne Harris‘ Storytime project, along with which he is a composer of his own musical journey bridging progressive music and mixing it up with elements of jazz, funk, ambient and whatever else takes his fancy! All that is before his main work role of software development for GForce Software where he recreates classic analogue keyboards for the digital age, specialising in Mellotrons and String Machines, quite an impressive C.V. really!
In the midst of this activity he has self released six solo albums, mainly via bandcamp. This new release is actually a compilation of those albums and it is an eclectic selection of music ranging from story song Ladybird through to the flute led J: Oi!, which features both the Hackett brothers, John and Steve, along with Nick Fletcher and Gary Boyle and a spoken piece from Bill Bruford, a grand collection of prog luminaries gathered in one glorious piece of music.
F: lower is another imaginative track in which Pink Floyd tones meet Canterbury whimsy and it all ends with John Hackett and Nick Fletcher doing what they do so well, I just wish it were much longer! Furry Leaves will most probably make you smile with its simple well known melody(Fleur De Lis) being developed well, with some fiery guitar from Nick Fletcher really hitting the mark and the more you hear J: Oi!, the more you realise how excellent a track it is. Lavender Rose is also an interesting track, mixing funk and progressive in a new style but all done with taste and aplomb. The Last Mango In Powys takes an approach of mixing ambient electro-folk, like the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, in space to create something both minimalist and also rewarding at the same time.
Variety is definitely the space of life for Duncan on this collection, his voice may be an acquired taste for some (not to me, I love it) but his imagination and how he applies it to this music is certainly not in question. He is truly progressive in his approach and thinking and whilst this doesn’t always make this a straightforward easy listening experience, it is one that will refresh parts that other prog musicians daren’t venture to explore, which I think validates the bravery Duncan exhibits so well. He is not afraid to try new things and new ways of working. I personally feel his way of approaching and applying his musical vision bears great fruit, the performances are good and the guests all contribute worthwhile ideas in their parts and, overall, make this 17 track album a highly interesting and very well realised set of songs.
This Day benefits from the sultry clarinet of John Helliwell, whose touch is delicate, profound and captivating, all at the same time. This track is an edit from his album ‘On Earth As It Is’. Also worthy of note is the almost mariachi style of Gonville, with Raul D’Oliveria’s trumpet leading the way over a sumptuous background of bass and synth sounds, all very sprightly and impressive sounding. Duncan’s willingness to reinvent during this album is very refreshing and appealing, he is one that likes to reimagine and re-envision his own music, thus retaining its freshness for him. This is very laudable and few would be so bold and for this we should applaud him and recognise his efforts to this end.
I for one find this release one that will given space in your music collection with very rich dividends indeed. I admire its balance of thoughtfully considered songs and its sympathetic use of guest musicians, whose touch greatly enhances these efforts of Duncan’s. The booklet is informative and gives a fine insight into what the music is about. I think that all this makes this a very worthwhile listen and I commend it and, indeed, all of Duncan’s music to you as you find within it all a plethora of wonder and imagination. It’s a collection very fine music indeed, everything from folk to funk, via jazz, ambient and even classical. Minimalist ideas abound and there is truly something for every taste, so why not check it out for yourself? You might thank me for the recommendation!
Released 6th October, 2023.
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