Logos's second LP is less than the sum of its often excellent parts.
Where Cold Mission was clearly useful for DJs, its successor sometimes turns recognisable club music fragments into artful abstractions. This is most true of the exceptional "Lighthouse Dub." Its unstable dub techno chords roll like snooker balls on an Escher-designed table, clacking in and out of impossible angles and alternate dimensions. "Flash Forward (Ambi Mix)" is a wicked drumless acid track, its needlepoint lead and bassline looping with hostile intent. It's possible to imagine the manic tumble of its insect-talk tones as an ant colony in turmoil. That needlepoint acid resurfaces on the Mumdance-featuring "Zoned In," whose dissonant MIDI-string screams and splattering snares approximate something DJ Stingray would drop on Halloween night. In each case, the impact of Parker's concise style is striking.
These club-adjacent tracks show the depth of Parker's imagination, as do a few ambient pieces. He recently described "Arrival (T2 Mix)" to Tiny Mix Tapes as "the boundary between something horrific and something infinite," and he's managed to convey this feeling in a richly cinematic way. If you've seen modern sci-fi horror films like Under The Skin or Annihilation—the latter of which was adapted from VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy—you will recognise the sense of uncomprehending awe in the symphonic strings, and the peripheral threat in the stealth-plane swoops and predatory growl ("Marsh Lantern," which seems to spin these growls on a platter, is a nicely executed companion piece). "Omega Point" situates a similar mood within a specific landscape: ashen stormclouds, crows on buzzing pylons, a cracking pyre.
With the exception of "Stentorian," a semi-ambient drum track whose suspenseful tones, 909 cymbals and resonant synth chords are a little stale, Imperial Flood's ideas are sharply realised. The album has some of Parker's best music to date, and that alone makes it worth your time. But over the piece it struggles to tell a compelling story—there is a lack of internal rhythm and narrative force, qualities that, strangely enough, can be found in most of the tracks themselves. Imperial Flood is essentially a series of good short stories rather than a satisfying novel. What keeps it from coming together? The absence of a unifying musical thread—in Cold Mission's case, grime—might be a factor. Or it may be that the balance of fast versus slow tips too far towards the latter. More revealing, though, is what Parker once told Parris. "You can never have too little music," he said. But economy sometimes comes at a price—when you spend so long whittling things down, it's easier to lose sight of the bigger picture.