I need to be honest. When I began to listen to music created by St Celfer™ (The most current musician incarnation of John MacDougall Parker) I didn’t understand most of Step.4D™ Lives I songs but I loved listening to it. I didn’t perceive it as music, but as a collection of very interesting sounds. My musically uneducated ears, beginning to listen to abstract music, took many times (by about 3 months) listening to feel the order of Step.4D™ improvisations.
Now, after more than two years of communing with this difficult music created by St Celfer™, I decided to make a guide for those who like these untypical timbres and want to understand these complex forms. John’s works performed on his hand-made instrument Step.4D™ are very diverse and can confuse with their number of styles.
JOHN’s MUSICAL Times before the Step.4D™ instrument
John M. Parker began as Dj Taint. Next he made experimental music as jengizkhan for over 20 years and paralelly over 9 years as earcon. He created field recording soundscapes, in grunge, hip hop, experimental rock and other…
In my opinion, when he created a more popular album Escaping Chixalub with a hip hop producer, Ron Ramey, he proved that he is a professional musician. This is important history for an avant-garde artist, because an untrained, unmusical ear may underestimate and ignore an avant-garde work as unmusical.
This is his own-made instrument composed of cd turntables, guitar pedals powered by theremin, and midi note converters. It is unbelievable that one person can play on these devices simultaneously in parallel. The effect is harsh music, glitched, with multitonical glissando’s (more precisely: portamento).
the series of songs released in Lives
So many devices together? Might it seem uncontrollable? The proof that it can be full of control is the album Lives. All tracks were composed in a completely reproducible way played on many performances.
Before Step.4D™ was Suites #1-9. A work as long as 9 albums. Very demanding high auditory sensitivity. The first time, even to an experienced listener, it may seem like a cacophony and noise. However, it is the most complex, elaborate and sophisticated of John’s work. I do not recommend starting a musical journey through the music of St Celfer™.
Very strange timbres. I still can’t order these sounds in my head, but I love these cosmic timbres.
Series StC Lives I & StC Lives I I
It is difficult to define what is a common part of these releases, but they are similar to each other and simultaneously dissimilar. They are very abstract, more abstract than Fifty One, Lives, Motifs for Keys and Motifs for Winds but easier to feel than Step.4D™ Symfony Motifs or Alcatraz Music Hour at the same level of difficulty as Step.DDDD (earcon Remixes) vs Step.4D
Over year ago (some months after I bought on bandcamp) I wrote a script to six of St Celfer songs from StC Lives I: the one (60’s) and StC Lives I: 67-9-49 (birth):
|A spaceship cruise that ends in a storm that blasts the survivor onto an unknown planet.
|An attempt to survive on an unknown planet among the dangers of the jungle.
|A survivor captured by savages is interrogated and tortured. The natives discuss his fate, and the victim thinks about escaping. After the torture, at the end of the piece, the hero almost dies from rhythmic hammer blows.
|It turned out that our hero survived. He is being treated by the family who stole him. The whole track is his fight for health, howling in pain during surgery without anesthesia.
|Secret meeting in caves – rebellious natives discuss the seizure of power. (2:10) The fight against the evil sovereign begins. First, they calmly take over the watchtowers and beachheads, then they take over the command.
|The ceremonial seizure of the government – the rebellion cheers. Our hero gets the opportunity to rebuild his spaceship and then sets off on a journey back home.
A very strange, for me, successful musical experiment. Series of one hour very abstract music releases. It is hard to guess the concept, but I felt it after a week. The strength of these tracks is that John managed to capture a very untypical musical property: attention. With each „wave” every few seconds the songs catch my attention and make me focus on a particular sound.
Motifs for Keys and Motifs for Winds
As I wrote on bandcamp: „An experimental type of jazz and baroque-like music that speaks of passing away. Courageous, demanding, giving many thoughts and impressions… more beautiful every time I listen to it”.
As I wrote on bandcamp: „My favorite timbres maneuvering across traditional music and sound art madnesses in complex, forms like determined chaos”.
I once wrote on my blog (in Polish) that John is an evolving musician. As I pointed out, he showed on his Step.4D™ that he can use many properties in music. Music has evolved over its history. Many initially strange, unusual styles have made their way into the mainstream. I am convinced that in a few, a dozen or so, or several dozen years, his rough-sounding music will gain popularity. Now I can savor and enjoy his music for myself.