Parlour Simulacrenfield

[Temporary Residence; 2010]

Styles: post-rock, Krautrock
Others: Cerebellum, Crane, Rodan, Neu!, Tortoise

Parlour is a band that I wish appealed to me more. Begun back in the late 90s as a solo project for Tim Furnish, formerly of seminal Louisville acts Cerebellum and Crain, Parlour is very clearly a labor of love, the product of a working musician with a sincere desire to practice his craft. Though released a mere nine months apart, his first two albums as Parlour, Octopus Off-Broadway and Googler, were collectively four years in the making, and it’s been half a decade since the Hives Fives EP. But while it’s easy to root for Parlour as a band, it’s a little tougher for me to really champion Simulacrenfield as an album. The songs gallop along at a brisk clip, utilizing repetitive Krautrock rhythms updated for a post-rock instrumental palette. The result goes down easy, but, as other critics have observed, not much of it sticks with you when you’re all done.

Album opener “Destruction Paper” probably fares the best. The song builds really well upon a simple, tinkling synth line. The guitars fall in and out of step with it while Steve Good’s Clarinet and Craig McClurin’s sax dance a zigzag around the melody. There’s a feeling of looseness about it, even while Jon Cook’s measured drumming drives the song relentlessly forward. That momentum almost carries into “Camus,” which builds a lot of suspense early on with its patient guitar patterns and sprightly sax figures, but the pay-off never quite materializes, and the album quickly loses steam after that. While the song lengths are fairly conservative (between four and six minutes for all but the closing track), the cyclical nature of their composition makes them feel a whole lot longer. There are small touches of Americana and GY!BE-style gloom and doom that surface periodically in the mix, but these fragments tend to get swept along in the rhythm’s unceasing eddy. Repetition and minute variation are central elements of Krautrock, which is clearly an important referent for the band, but the subtlety and aesthetic purity comes at the cost of the songs having any life of their own.

I imagine that long-time Parlour fans and those who have closely followed the constellation of Louisville acts that sprang out of the big bang of Cerebellum’s dissolution will be satisfied with Simulacrenfield; it’s one of the harder-rocking entries in the band’s spare catalog. And anyone with a hunger for instrumental post-rock could definitely do a lot worse. Still, I’d be fairly surprised if this album had much to say to anyone outside of the small congregation of the converted.

Links: Parlour - Temporary Residence

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