Dedicated to Terry Riley
Luke Parkin is one of the most accomplished, conversant, and captivating assets, of the younger generation’s artists emerging to prominence. At age thirty, he has amassed upwards of 70 Albums, which amounts to over forty five hours of music with a breathtaking oeuvre that spans many genres.
EST. MMIX. (Established 2009) is Luke Parkin’s 70th album. Despite some exotic sounds, few audiences will find themselves excluded. However, like those preceding it, EST. MXXIX is an album that eludes the easy sorts of labels that the recording industry uses – it’s as eclectic as its composer.
While Parkin’s music can take the shape of almost any container, it inevitably overflows any limit. Though he insists he is not afraid of repeating himself, the protean variety of his recordings suggest an artist on a quest – investigating new and old musical territory with an explorer’s keen senses.
“I’m trying to play a lot of musical characters,” he acknowledges, “and I want to exploit the more eccentric part of my personality in my compositions. Every album is an extension of who I am naturally.”
Winter Journal(2006) – which he describes as ‘classically informed New Age’ – cleaves to the melodic mainstream. Engine Album (05) and The Black on Black Symphony, whirl farther into the periphery, marking out acoustic landscapes that touch down like distant planetary dust storms.
Between examples of Parkin’s work lies a spectrum that spans commercial music, electronic dance, modern organ music, and exquisite piano homages to Debussy and Satie. Nor is the diversity of his inspiration limited to musical forms.
Growing up in Amesbury, Massachusetts, a former mill town that saw its brightest days decades ago, Parkin often felt like the consummate outsider. His formative training, however, was conventional – even conservative. He began piano at the age of six with Bach and worked through Beethoven and the Classical repertoire with an uncompromising teacher he describes as “old-school Russian;” one dedicated to building “technique from the ground up.” At university he would study with esteemed Argentine pianist Estela Olevsky who emphasized a far more relaxed approach.
On live performance: “A performer,” he insists, “should try to completely surprise and thrill an audience with something they don’t expect, try to give an audience something fresh.” Parkin’s knowledge of classical and modern musics allows him a “diverse toolbox.”
“Someone once said that I had a schizophrenic approach to composition – ‘I thought you wrote piano music’ or ‘I thought you wrote electronic music.’”
“This is personal to me – I like to call it ‘classitronic.’ I’ve received a lot of attention on the coinage, but I’m more interested in marking out the cutting edge rooted in the beauty of the fusion.” He also admits it sounds a little too much like “music people smoke weed to or have sex by.”
One fan of Parkin’s creative genius commented, “Keep an eye on Luke – he’ll both mark out the horizon in cutting edge music and keep it connected to the classics. If you want to be ahead of the curve, listen to Luke Parkin.”