By his fourth release on celebrated label Geophone, Mike Parker had already begun to carve out the sound now synonymous with his name. Introverted, cyclical and boldly simplistic, he uses intricate sound design and compositional skill to craft long, drawn out pieces that are not just interesting, but possess an addictive quality that leaves you wanting to hear them again and again.
Geophone 005, ‘Drain Hum’, is a double barrel EP featuring two versions of one track, clocking in at just over 9 minutes each. As with all of his tracks, it was recorded live using only hardware, and was released in May of 1999.
The first track, the original mix, is a slow burning piece with a tight kick drum and booming 808 hit providing a heavy backbone. Analog tape hiss mutates into a garbled and glitchy percussive top line, while a reverb soaked synth stab resonates above the rumbling subs. At around the three minute mark the kick gives way to a seemingly muted breakdown, but the reserved atmosphere is soon shattered by a searing, alien sound with an almost vocal like quality.
Parker uses this modest palette of sounds successfully to carry the track to its completion. With simple filtration of the higher frequencies and subtle automation of the reverb tails, Parker plays with the sense of space in the track. By making the pauses between each occurring element appear to vary in length he creates a real sense of unease and irregularity.
The EPs second track, the percussion mix, is much more drum focused than the original mix. The beat is chopped and broken, a fresh contrast to the rigid structure of the first mix, but the throbbing 808 bass remains to fill out the low end. As the name would suggest the track contains a variety of percussive inclusions; hi hats, rim shots and claps all feature, each creeping in and out throughout the duration of the track keeping things interesting and unpredictable. The synth stab remains relatively unchanged, however the interesting lead sound has been sharpened and streamlined, and doesn’t command such an obvious place in the mix.
Drain Hum is now 17 years old, but still sounds fresh and forward thinking, and still finds its way into many DJ and live performances, Parker’s included. One of the most unique artists in the scene today, Parker’s sound is immediately recognisable and it’s for that reason, among others, that he is so highly regarded as a producer, remixer and live performer.
Check Mike Parker out at the following links: