Parker Gray—Luminous Darkness

2020, Gallway Bay Music


Parker Gray, a partnership with keyboardist Harvey Jones, is an oddly natural extension of Peter Gallway’s oeuvre. Even with electronic instruments and loops expanding his usual palette, Gallway maintains his ability to make a cornucopia of instruments sound intimate. Gallway’s website describes the material on Luminous Darkness as “cinematic musical interpretations of 11 poems—spoken and sung,” from his 2011 collection, Big Mercy. “Poetry,” features sinuous synth and programmed drum driven groove, providing an aural landscape for the half sung, half dramatically spoken, lyrics. Pop culture is antithetical to art, “I’m giving up Hollywood for poetry.” The first track, “Romance Comes” is a languid reading over a hypnotic slow train-like clack that is actually the looped sound of a clothes dryer. “Breathless” features Gallway’s wife, Annie Gallup’s dreamlike spoken word. The deeply poetic mood will be familiar to their duo work as Hat Check Girl. The album is not just atmosphere and poetry. The opening lines of “Luminous Darkness” describe its flavor, “Miles Davis in the small hours, where muted dissonance pulses….”  “Rolling Stones 1964” features the stripped down guitar riff of “The Last Time,” dressing it in an Asian trance-like aura. “Spanish Is Spoken Here” is sophisticated smooth jazz. “A Younger Man’s Hands,” is startlingly personal, seeking with gown-up understanding, the essence of a father, as seen through images observed as a youth. “My father has a younger man’s hands, fingers delicate and pure . . . .” This album begs for many a close listen, revealing a little more of itself on each play. —Michael Devlin

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