An essential, ethereal psychedelic-folk masterpiece!
What's all the fuss about? If you've read any of the hundreds of articles in music mags and on the net about Linda Perhacs' sole 1970 LP Parallelograms, you'd be tempted to question its reputation. People talk about Parallelograms in much the same way that they talk about Nick Drake's Island albums, Swaddling Songs by Mellow Candle and Vashti Bunyan's sole LP for Phillips... as a life-changing musical experience, one that inspires them to create new works of art and to express their deepest emotions despite the risk. Sure, there's a lot of hyperbole out there about this record, and yet it's absolutely warranted. For just about 40 minutes, it will take you on a guided tour of a world that's far too beautiful to exist... but does.
Part of the effect of the album is in the incredibly sensitive production by soundtrack composer Leonard Rosenman. He facilitates some very non-traditional ideas and gets extraordinarily skilled musicians to execute them. Rosenman's willingness to work in intense collaboration with a wide-eyed studio novice speaks volumes about his desire to help create something truly original. This Sundazed version of the album is meticulously mastered to reveal a deep and subtle soundscape that practically reinvents the listening experience even if you've heard Parallelograms a thousand times before. Listen to Steve Cohn's guitar lines and how they dance so delicately in and around Linda's vocal lines on songs like Dolphin. When you get to the end of side one, it's time to don the headphones. Every ride in the sonic theme park that is the song Parallelograms is free, and there are no lines!
As much as it's about the psychedelic production and gorgeous arrangements, it's about words. Linda Perhacs uses words like no one else, teasing and toying with them, spinning them into bright, joyous confections with her voice on songs like Porcelain Baked-Over Cast-Iron Wedding. Her words at times sound like ancient sacred poetry, translated for the first time into English and whispered in your ear by a true love. Listening to Call of the River and Delicious is as close as you'll ever get to hearing the Sirens' song without getting strapped to a mast first!
People like Devendra Banhart, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo & Thomas Bangalter (Daft Punk) and Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) have expressed their love of these recordings, and they've taken direct inspiration from it for their current work. Parallelograms has also encouraged a close re-examination of the genre. Let's hope record collectors never stop searching for the kind of magic they hear in Parallelograms. For psychedelic folk, you can start at perfect and go from there.