Review for Tess Parks: And Those Who Were Seen Dancing (Album) – 2022
Artist: Tess Parks
Title: And Those Who Were Seen Dancing
Country of Origin: Canada, Toronto / UK, London
Label: Fuzz Club Records
Genre: Alternative, Neo-Psychedelic
Release Date: May 20 | 2022
10 Tracks • 37m 26s
At qobuz available in Lossless
16 Bits / 44.1 kHz | CD-Quality
For the German translation of
this review >>> click here <<<
Toronto-born, London-based artist Tess Parks released her long-awaited new album „And Those Who Were Seen Dancing“ on May 20, 2022 via Fuzz Club Records. For yearsTess Park had toured the world and released quite a few critically acclaimed collaborations with Anton Newcombe of Brian Jonestown Massacre.
About the works with the rather difficult to classify Anton Newcombo may be divided opinion, but it‘ s by no means true that these were collaborations of Anton Newcombe with Tess Parks. Rather, these are also classic Tess Parks works, where Anton Newcobo has just helped a little further and provided some publicity.
Because above all these collaborations lies the fascinating aura and charisma of Tess Parks. Tess‘ new independent solo album, titled „And Those Who Were Seen Dancing,“ is the first of its kind since 2013’s much-loved debut album „Blood Hot,“ which transcended borders and continents.
„In my mind, this album is like a debate between heaven and hell,“ Tess says, „These songs were put together between August 2019 and March 2021 in London, Toronto, and Los Angeles with friends and myfamily. There are so many other versions of these songs. Recording and finalizing this album took over two years, and wow – the lesson I learned the most is that words can send out some kind of incantation.
If I didn’t know it before, I sure do now. I just want to send good things out into the universe.“ A growing disillusionment about the state of the world coupled with an injury that prevented Tess from playing guitar and piano for months almost put the album on hold.
„I felt really unable to finish this album,“ she reminisces, „I didn’t listen to music at all for about a year and turned to painting“ instead. And Tess Parks does that incredibly well, too, and she keeps gifting us with it on her Instagram page. „I had to convince myself again that it’s important to send as much good as we can out into the world. And to believe that the light we send out can always be a beacon to others in the darkness.
The thought of someone not sharing their art or shying away from creating something seems like a real tragedy to me. Even if it’s not perfect, you’re always capturing a moment for memory.“ And Those Who Were Seen Dancing is an album full of such moments, people, and places. It was recorded over a two-year period, but the songs, lyrics, and ideas go back over a decade in some way.
It was the infectious lead single „Happy Birthday Forever“ – a slice of upbeat, almost gospel-influenced psych-pop – that encouraged Tess Parks to finish the album. „The lyrics were written when I lived on Henshaw Street in the Elephant and Castle district in 2009. I think I played that track at some of my first solo shows in London,“ she is telling us.
„One day in October 2020, my sister Isabella was driving us home from a mixing session and I saw a numberplate that said ‚GMOOH,‘ which is how I always abbreviated the song, and I thought to myself, ‚Okay, I’m definitely on the right track. I need to finish this album!'“. Fortunately, Tess did just that and was able to enlist a number of friends and family members to work on the album.
The album was brought to life with the help of Parks‘ bandmates Rian O’Grady, Ruari Meehan, Francesco Perini and Mike Sutton, and her parents also make an appearance on the hazy, slow-burning opener „WOW“ (the track opens with Parks‘ mother playing singing bowls, and throughout we hear her father playing her grandfather’s piano).
Though the song is driven by a smoldering spoken-word vocal reminiscent of the husky poetry of Patti Smith or Lydia Lunch, Tess Parks sees the recording process of „Brexit At Tiffany’s“ as an example of how her words took on new life with the help of her band.
„We were recording at Rian’s house, “ says Tess, „and the guys started playing this music that had Francesco’s typical Ray Mananzarek/Doors sensibility and Mike’s Neil Young-esque guitar lines. The following I started reading this poem I had written stringing together definitions of words I found interesting and had written down. The title is due to Ruari, who kept saying that and we all thought it was the best thing we’d ever heard.“
Tess began writing with Ruari Meehan during the Berlin sessions for her last album with Anton Newcombe. „We sat at a table in the studio,“ she says, „and wrote ‚Right On‘ in about five minutes, and when we got back to London we went right on.“
„We based the music loosely on ‚Jesus Is Waiting‘ by Al Green, and I had this lyric that I kept coming back to again and again in December 2012. This song is about how maybe life is already heaven on earth… or hell – every day, you have to decide.“ And Those Who Were Seen Dancing is a lighter, happier departure from the hypnotic psych-rock of Parks‘ work with Anton Newcombe, but with the growlingly over-the-top garage rocker „Do You Pray?“ Tess keeps one foot firmly rooted in this world. One must never displace one’s origins in the face of all change.
„We Are The Music Makers And We Are The Dreamer of Dreams“ is an „ode to unrequited love“ and closing track “Saint Michael” began „as a short poem I wrote while sitting alone in our van in a restaurant car park – our tour had just ended in Nantes and I could see Mont-Saint-Michael in the distance.“
It may have been nine years since she released her first and only Tess Parks studio album (not counting the Newcombe collaborations), but the songs on „And Those Who Were Seen Dancing“ and the memories, people and places they bring to light show that Parks has been anything but resting on her laurels in the years since her debut, „Blood Hot.“
Echoing the Freidrich Nietzche quote, „Those you saw dancing thought those who couldn’t hear the music were crazy,“ Tess Parks has returned with a collection of sublime and slack popping psychedelic gems that not only welcome you into their world with open arms, but also deliver the kind of optimistic, inspirational message we so desperately need in our cursed times.
„This quote has resonated with me for years,“ she says, „Perception is everything. Peace is the moment when you don’t judge. Even though this album is not what it could have been, it is music to my ears…. I dance.“ Since May 20, when „And Those Who Were Seen Dancing“ entered insere world via Fuzz Club Records, we’ve all been dancing with her.
The Bottom line:
No one has touched me as deeply this year as Tess Parks, it’s been like therapy, like healing. And I really love the music of Tess Parks. There are very few artists who can accompany us with their works over a longer period of several years.
But with Tess Parks, I am sure that she will accompany me musically for years with all her works that are now in my possession. It is music for the ages, and with this album she has become a style icon of neo-psychedelia. And yet, she has been topped by another act … But more about that later.
The Bottom Line
Studio 1 (High End):
- 2 x System Audio SA Mantra 50 (front)
- 1x System Audio SA Mantra 10 AV (center)
- 2x System Audio SA Legend 5 (Rear)
- 1 x System Audio Saxo 10 (Subwoofer)
- 4 x Onkyo SKH-410 (B) (Dolby Atmos)
- Auralic Altair (Audio Streaming Client mit max. 32 Bit / 384 kHz)
- NVIDIA Shield Pro mit Plex, Kodi (max 192 kHz für Audio, Tidal (MQA Streaming Client)
- AppleTV 4K (Streaming Client) Dolby Atmos, HDR, Dolby Vision
- Amazon Cube 4K (Streaming Client) Dolby Atmos (restricted), HDR, Dolby Vision
- Panasonic DP-UB9004 (4K UHD Player) Dolby Atmos, HDR, Dolby Vision
- Oppo UDP-203 (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Player) Dolby Atmos, HDR, Dolby Vision
- Yamaha CX-A5100 (Preamp) 4K, Dolby Atmos, Hi-res
- Yamaha MX -A5000 (Power Amp)
- Sony KD-55A1 (TV) 4K OLED, HDR, Dolby Vision
Studio 2 (Near Field): Studio 3 (Consumer):
Studio 2 (Near Field):
Studio 3 (Consumer):