Kiss My Arp
By: Eric G.
Kiss My Arp is an amazingly stylized and brilliantly crafted debut album by DJ and sometimes vocalist Andrea Parker. She began her career as a DJ back in 1993 and released her first single for Mo' Wax almost four years ago, entitled "Melodious Thunk." Parker is a classically trained cellist and possesses an alluring however timid vibrato, but she is best known for her remixes of Lamb, Depeche Mode, and The Orb. Parker's predilection for the dark and brooding has garnered her a curious following amongst the electronic underground, which is strange considering that most of her musical reference points consist of jazz and modern composition.
Parker traverses much musical ground here, and, as a testament to the strength of her songwriting and mixing skills, this album is available in both instrumental and vocal versions. The brooding trip hop of "The Unknown" ostentatiously displays her lustrous voice. "Clutching at Straws" gives more than a nod to Bjork's fusion of strings and cutting edge electronics while "In Two Minds" explores much darker terrain. Parker's aesthetic use of low-end syncopation countervails some of the drama infused by the frequent use of strings. Her instrumental songs are cool and aloof but entrancing nonetheless. The polyrhythmic "Melodious Thunk" gives way to the twittering bleep infested "Some Other Level", showing the bridge from her early work to her recent, more sophisticated output.
"Elements Of Style" fuses hip-hop beats with jazzy arrangements not unlike Wagon Christ's Tally Ho!, but it's Parker's effective use of fractured rhythms that dominate the tone of the album. Even when she seemingly jogs in place as on the Bond theme-esque "Return Of The Rocking Chair", she manages to push the envelope past the obvious Portishead influence and make an emotionally stirring impact with her eerie, repetitious lyrics. Parker makes haunting but intelligent music, and her sponge-like consumption and subsequent manipulation of eclectic styles makes Kiss My Arp one of the year's finest releases.