Parca Pace by Parca Pace (Review)

Remarkably pleasant to the ears, even at its harshest, while still delivering a challenging and unpredictable listen.
Parca Pace

Parca Pace was originally conceived as a soundtrack for a multimedia presentation about the closing of a factory and the effect that event had on the surrounding communities. Furthermore, Parca Pace is the project of one Jan Carleklev (Sanctum, November Commandment) and was produced by Samuel Durling (Mental Destruction). So now it’s probably safe to assume that, if you’re familiar with any of those names and/or groups, you’ve probably got some notions as to how this disc sounds.

You’re wrong.

Parca Pace is hard to categorize, unless you throw it into that catchall “experimental” genre, but that doesn’t do the depth and emotion of this release justice. For one thing, “experimental” often means “unlistenable.” But Parca Pace is remarkably pleasant to the ears, even at its harshest, while still delivering a challenging and unpredictable listen.

Parca Pace exhibits all of the styles of the aforementioned groups — industrial, synth, neo-classical — but also throws in tribal beats and chants for good measure. The beauty is that the disc never stays with one sound for too long. At first, the disc has a highly improvisational feel to it, but repeated listenings reveal that the disc actually consists of several musical motifs that are repeated and combined throughout 50+ minutes of the disc.

It’d be easy for this approach to backfire, for the music to fall in on itself. But Carleklev’s arrangements don’t fall into this category. He knows when to stretch out a motif, and when to transition into another. Sometimes you can see it coming, but sometimes it takes you by surprise. The fact that this disc can touch on so many different sounds and genres, and yet still remain cohesive is testament to that. A good deal of the disc explores the ambient-industrial side of things, with mechanical groans and noises populating eerie, shifting soundscapes like rusty machines come to life and wandering the decaying factory. But the tribal beats and chants, which slowly form out of the industrial noises add a powerful human element, while the strings and atmospherics add a haunting, spiritual quality.

The reason this often sounds so improvisational is that the changes and transitions in mood and sounds seem to happen at random, but they never sound haphazard or unnatural within the context of the music. And there are a few points of the disc when the various motifs merge into one surging mass of sounds which serve as the emotional linchpin of the disc.

Don’t let the fact that this disc is only one 50+ minute track scare you off. This is not a release for short attention spans, nor is it something you’d just stick in for the heck of it. It requires patience, and part of the enjoyment I get from this album was trying to see the connections that Carleklev makes between seemingly disparate sounds. I often have a problem with long, drawn out tracks such as this. It’s often a testament to the artist’s ego, and they often quickly become boring and insipid. But in the case of Parca Pace, it’s a testament to Carleklev’s skill and beauty of the music itself.