“Free World Music” (Very Special Recordings)

Brooklyn. Dali. Put them together and you have what sounds like the female offspring of Salvador Dali were he alive today to appreciate my humor. Or maybe he wouldn’t appreciate it – I have a feeling he’d spend a lot of time in a chair, over/underwhelmed by modern society. “Brooklyn,” he’d mumble, hand shading his eyes from reality, “bring daddy his Rick Parker and Li Daiguo tape. Daddy needs to feel emotions again.”


Probably best to leave that flight of fancy where it is for the moment because I’m feeling all kinds of feelings right now, crazy feelings, feelings that leave me clamoring for more feelings because I can’t properly process the ones that are overwhelming me right now, so yeah, sure keep ’em coming. Some semblance of context is needed, though, or else Free World Music is going to submerge my attention like the perfect storm in that movie The Perfect Storm, if you imagine my attention is a fishing vessel foolishly setting out to sea with, ahem, the perfect storm bearing down on it. Not to suggest that these two experimental musicians are akin to a natural disaster, they just happen to demand your attention as they do their thing, which is making music, not ginormous waves.

And to bring it back around to location, side A was recorded in Brooklyn, and side B was recorded in Dali, because c’mon, duh, keep following here. Rick Parker and Li Daiguo are a dream duo for those who are desperately in love with experimental music – I mean, they use an instrument that I’ve never even heard of before, for goodness’ sake, and I’ve heard of a lot of instruments! (For the record, it was the pipa. I know what a trombone is.) And then, to stick with one of my various themes, I feel absolutely unmoored when experiencing Free World Music, as if sinking into the depths as the tunes envelope me. But then I evolve gills, and I’m saved from my fate, and I scold myself for not realizing this would all happen in the first place.

The cohesion of these pieces should have tipped me off, even though they sound far-out when you start to describe them. Different traditions emerge and adhere to one another, those steeped in jazz, traditional Chinese, and other paths of experimentation. There’s power in the movement of these pieces – nothing stays still for long, pretty much ever. The exotic and the familiar merge and become a great new thing, weird and special, like a present-day Salvador Dali or a planet-wide tidal wave churning the futuristic and the modern together before enveloping humanity in its chaotic passage. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the track titles, which are amazing! My favorite is probably “Research Has Shown That Casting Spells Using Contemporary Social Media Is Just as Effective as Chanting over Cauldrons.” See? You’re not even ready for Rick Parker and Li Daiguo, are you. You should prepare yourself.

--Ryan Masteller