Parkland Music Project “Eminent Ghosts” (Offseason Records, 2020)

Eminent Ghosts‘ is a concept album roughly located where psychedelic rock intersects with alt-country. The whole album consists of only five extended tracks which collectively form around a central narrative using avant-garde sonic landscapes. Parkland Music Project is a Vancouver based group led by Rob Malowany, with a regular lineup additionally featuring Neko Case collaborator Paul Rigby on pedal steel and acoustic guitar. The recordings are a labour of love where the tracks feature live takes with minimal overdubbing, most notably with the vocals as Malowany responds to and inspires the direction of a given performance. The album is not exactly a singalong, but the efforts are unmistakably sincere, with an emotional intensity reminiscent of Jason Molina.

Stand Down Olympus‘ open with strong recording hiss and some gentle, noodling guitar. It seems that a track that stands at ten minutes thirty-seven seconds does not need to jump in, but the song and the vocals build steadily, imparting its urgent message: topple your oppressors. It is aptly self-described as apocalyptic post-rock/psych freak-rock. “’Float‘ begins to flirt more with the structure of a country song, which somewhat like the deconstructed dessert much beloved by celebrity chefs, has all the component parts, just not where you might think they might be.

King is Rising‘ positively leans towards being straightforward Americana, referencing a lost romanticism of what modern North America could be. By the time you get to ‘Lottery Life‘, critiquing the false hope of capitalism, the full-on drum and bass sound coupled with the vocal intensity seems to become almost normal. The total experience closes with ‘Home‘ where the acoustic guitar provides structure. Having explored more difficult themes for the majority of the album, this slips easily into a warmer, comforting closure, drawing you back as if returning at the end of the day.

In all, ‘Eminent Ghosts’ is about acceptance, responsibility, and being present—for yourself, the ones you love, and the world at large. These are welcomed hauntings. The ghosts are all the friends, family, and inspirational strangers who imbue the present with a depth and range, and act as reassuring guides towards an uncertain, but supported-for future.” It would stretch credibility to describe this venture as mainstream. There are refrains of Pink Floyd meets Neutral Milk Hotel or Magnolia Electric Co. This is a deliberately conceived exploratory soundscape which knits together rather well and if you don’t fancy that, it is probably not your cup of tea, but if you are interested in something just a little different then this is well worth checking out.

An intense and emotional concept-driven soundscape

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