Deantoni Parks’ Technoself is a solo record from a drummer with a pedigree worthy of being called a pedigree — a current member of Bosnian Rainbows who’s worked with John Cale, Flying Lotus, and Sade, and he’s also an on-again off-again teacher at Berklee College of Music. So, he knows what he’s doing, he’s worked with a buffet of great artists, and he can absolutely murder a drum kit.
Technoself is a weird record, from start to finish. Being a drummer by trade, Parks makes music that revolves around percussion. In fact, beyond being simply percussion-centric, this is an album that was essentially made with nothing but a drum kit and a sampler. There’s no lush instrumentation here. Parks focuses on rhythm, the way it changes, breaks, speeds up and slows down, hits hard and then smooths out. One would be hard-pressed to find a comparably in-depth meditation on drums, and Parks is just the kind of badass drummer to bring it.
While the equipment used in making this album is severely limited, it doesn’t feel like a limitation — rather, it has the opposite effect, blossoming into something altogether unexpected. Creativity, after all, is one of those peculiar things that grows stronger when you try to strangle it. Technoself is distinctly low-fi. On several tracks, the chatter of sparse audiences can be heard in the quieter moments. By ditching the comforts and excesses of flashy production, Parks shows listeners things they thought couldn’t be done with a lone drummer. “Graphite” comes on hard with a Black Sabbath heavy metal feel. There’s a kind of hip-hop jazz fusion vibe on “Methodist.” A bit of acid can be found on “Automatic,” and “Black Axioms” cycles through so many genres during its six minutes that it’s nearly impossible to track.
Aside from the incredible drumming that makes up this album, what’s really special about Technoself is its organic quality. While a lot of artists build music from intricately programmed beats and carefully sequenced samples, Parks goes completely raw, smashing his drums on live recordings with no looping to speak of. He does to a drum kit what Squarepusher did to a bass guitar in his Solo Electric Bass work. Listening to Technoself is hearing a virtuoso at work, and while it’s not always a fun album, it’s tough to argue with its chops.