ALBUM: Anton Newcombe & Tess Parks – ‘I Declare Nothing’


Anton Newcombe, Il Capo of the wonderful titled portmanteau The Brian Jonestown Massacre, has resolutely adhered to this dictum over the past 25 years, releasing 14 albums and hiring and firing numerous adhocs along the way; his spat with copyists The Dandy Warhols was also captured in Ondi Timoners 2004 doc,  Dig!. Newcombe also continually champions kindred-spirits (in attitude, not aesthetically) such as Sleaford Mods, releasing a 10 single version of their ‘Fizzy’ in 2014.

Concocted in Newcombes Berlin studio, I Declare Nothing is the inauguralcollaboration between Tess Parks and Newcombe. Canadian Parks moved to London, England seven years ago and met re-Creation bore Alan “Did I tell you I used to take the coke?” McGreed, whose sage adviceinspired Parks to produce 2013’s Blood Hot.

Wehmut, Deutsch for melancholy or wistfulness does exactly what is prescribed. With vox reminiscent of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval after chaining the ciggies, this is strumming guitar, laconic and hazy with woozy, breathy vocals. The sound of coming to after a sesh, the realisation that you dont actually like anyone there. And theyre still talking about the same things. Again. Let me out. You dont know where you are. You really do not want to go back in. You walk. Anywhere. But there.

‘Cocaine Cat’ was released as part of the annual, global ruse that is Record SHOP Day in April. That day when alleged scarcity = coolness. FOMO = $$. The ambience is in a similar vein to Pixies Surfer Rosa, as Parks’ vocals are more husky-do than don’t. ‘Peace Defrost’ continues the acoustic strum and fuzz throb, Parks’ larynx getting gravelly and dredgy, the sound of Granny taking a trip, “‘ere are, love, gerrus a borrel oKool Aid will ya?”

‘October 2nd‘ reminds of David Roback’s Paisley Underground affiliates Opal; languid keys supporting Parks’ laconic delivery. ‘Voyage De L’ame’ (The Journeys of the Soul) adds sweeping strings with lyrics of I feel very small evoking Alice’s trip through the looking glass via White Rabbit’s lysergic mania.

A ‘Meliorist’ is an individual who believes that human interference with natural processes can create a better world though altruism and benevolence, be it individually or collectively; a utopian ideal maybe but not out of grasp. Newcombe adds his dulcet tones to this more upbeat number that has a guitar evocative of Them’s ‘Gloria’ crossed with the bridge in The Moody Blues ‘Tuesday Afternoon’.

The album illustrates Newcombe’s steadfast dedication to trippy, hippy, dippy times via the medium of guitar soundscapes. There’s a formula: guitar, drum-thud, illegible, gnarly vox albeit not too much of a departure for either of them, however, this is all about the mood, turn off your phones, chillax and eat an ice-cream.

There is a narrative thread here – if one-paced, like a plane moving round the runaway, you wait for it to take flight and soar. Ly(se)r(g)ics prevail throughout: sunshine, being on the edge of life, the desire to go home and reaching paradise in an album that grows with each listen, but, personally could’ve have wigged out more.

‘I Declare Nothing’ is released on June 29th via ‘a’ Records.

Kemper Boyd