Greetings From The Star Chamber

by Todd Parker and The Witches

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"Top 10 of 2010"
From Trip Inside This House Blog 1-21-2011 (by Valis, host of KDHX 88.1 St. Louis Trip Inside This House Show)

6. Todd Parker & The Witches - Greetings from The Star Chamber (Bakery)
Ex-Tadpoles leader builds on his past but jets us into a dynamic, entrancing future. The guy just knows how to create aural scapes you want to stay in.


From Mr. Atavist, posted on the Trip Inside This House Blog 1-2011 (by Kevin McFadin, host of WRIR, 97.3, Richmond, VA Sunrise Ocean Bender show)

Todd Parker & the Witches :: Greetings from the Star Chamber
I'm an unabashed Tadpoles champion. As much as this was certainly a personal achievement for Parker, it was a personal kick for me. Not Tadpoles 2.0 by any means, GFTSC almost inverts Parker's and 'poles' influences to create a solo platter that extends the 'poles legacy as much as sheds new light on it … all the time being very much a "solo" record. Throw in the supplemental Star Club E.P. and you've got an outing running the gamut from psych-rock to pop to electronica tinged workouts and beyond.



Liner Notes by Kevin McFadin, Mr. Atavist Blog and radio show host at WRIR, Richmond, VA. ~


The last our ears heard from Todd Parker was Use With Headphones Late at Night: The Best of Tadpoles 1990-2000, a brief summation of one the most consistent, evolving and involving, runs a band could aim for. Tadpoles spun an intricate, inviting web of sonics that was as strong and identifiable as it was flexible and amorphous. Todd created a knotty, loopy world with Tadpoles that was a self-contained, self-sufficient and fully realized universe for us to visit, and thankfully revisit. Greetings From The Star Chamber {GFTSC} is another universe of his making. The portal is open. Walk in and shake the architect's hand.

GFTSC is not Tadpoles 2.0. Nor is it simply a solo album. {That said, the reappearance of Mike Audino on the drum kit and co-producing, David Max, Josh Bracken, et al, should appease those Tads purists in fear of their reputation being sullied if this misfires. Much of GFTSC, in regards to extending the line of thinking pursued by Tadpoles, is a melding of pre-Smoke Ghost with later career accomplishments.} This is Parker adding another chapter to a book that will never be finished … an ongoing continuum that he already contributed to immensely with Tadpoles, ensuring that if he didn't say anything else after Tadpoles went into a holding pattern, he had already said quite a lot.

That raises the question, 'Does he have anything to say now?'

And 'What book are you rambling on about? I thought we were talking sound …'

I'm talking about the bigger picture, baby. Can you dig? I'm talking about your rock 'n roll as nourishment. More importantly I'm talking about his music, his art, being part of something far more expansive and far-reaching than an end product or tallies on a spreadsheet. Tadpoles never reached the level of popularity regarded by many as a benchmark of success. And in it's own way, that's tragic: tragic for those who never stepped inside that universe. Would Tadpoles have kept going on if they had reached a certain pre-ordained cultural pinnacle? I don't know and I don't really care. Was it tragic for Tadpoles? Not at all. Why? Because that's not what they were about. Todd and Co. were, and are, about taking what they obviously love and making it their own while never laying claim to total ownership, and by default, invention. And that right there was one of their secret weapons: it liberated them from an endless cycle of rehashing not only where they might have felt they came from, but themselves.

As I sit and write this, it's hard to expound about Todd Parker and the Witches without talking about Tapdoles. One is part of the other just as the other is part of the one. That's heavy, kids, I know, but for as forward looking and exploratory as Parker and Tadpoles were he never shied away from acknowledging what came before them, what he was a part of. No need to start now. Listen to the kick-off Squigs for proof: those opening strains and washes call to mind to something as familiar as Pink Floyd, a freely admitted influence, but never sounds like something they would have done. The same can be said for Give It To The Elf as it resurrects Gerald Mouse. Go back and put any Tadpoles platter on and you'll hear, you'll feel, Todd making a contribution to a rich and convoluted history … story … that they didn't start, but kept alive in the truest sense. If Parker had concerned himself with making some kind of definitive statement that would have not only been a foolish endeavor worthy of Sisyphus, but would have effectively put him in the position of not having anything left to say. By the time GFTSC comes to a rousing close, it's obvious Todd has plenty left to say. If he didn't, then the cuts and attention to sequencing wouldn't leave you feeling you had just been told a story; a sonic ride that is trippy, humorous {"Ding dong, it's coming on strong' from The Witch is Dead … trust me, it works}, majestic, slithering {Tingler} and, for you action fans, just rocks {Chelsea Roses}. Is it a psychedelic record? A space-rock record? A psych-pop record? Neo-psych? You can call it what you want if that helps you keep track of it. I do know it's a consistently strong record without every feeling workman-like.

With Star Chamber, Todd Parker not only proves that he is a consummate craftsmen at what he does {just listen to his mastery of sprawl on what is essentially the closing track, Disconnect, a worthy successor in every sense to what I narrow-mindely thought was his parting ''definitive statement' Sunrise Ocean Bender from Whirlaway}, 'but he effortlessly achieves the contradictory {again} in a terribly linear world: by not being intimidated to look back, or rather not feeling some misplaced need to distance himself from past successes to gain some kind of relevance, he moves forward … at the same time. Is that a form of cognitive dissonance, those two opposing movements? I don't know, I don't have the chops to figure that one out … nor do I want to. But I do know that that seemingly contradictory logic is exactly the kind of logic that Todd turns into sonic magic. It's not about the direction, it's about the movement. That movement lets Parker sail us over a lot of ground without ever feeling adrift, even in the spacier, loopier excursions.

GFTSC is familiar and unfamiliar; expected and unexpected … and really, we expect nothing less than the unexpected from Todd Parker. Chances are, he expects nothing less than that from himself, and us, too. It would be easy to say, 'Welcome back, Mr. Parker.' But that's sentiment going only in one direction. Parker is welcoming us to the Star Chamber.





Review from Jersey Beat's Jim Testa ~

Todd Parker’s aural alchemy beguiled Hoboken and NYC audiences throughout the Nineties in The Tadpoles, a band I was lucky enough to see at the first Terrastock music festival back in ’97. Todd disappeared for most of the 00’s but has re-emerged with this new album, a digital-only release that picks up where the Tadpoles left off – somewhere in the murky purple haze of 60’s psychedelia. Part early Velvets, part early Pink Floyd, most of Greetings From The Chamber sinuously unravels at fairly slow tempos, building swirling textures around Parker’s guitar, synths, and lethargic (lysergic?) vocals. “Rodeo Clown Blues ‘66” picks up the tempo for a bit of garage-rock chug, “Tingler” has a menacing, monster-movie feel, and “Give It To The Elf” transports us straight to Oz (or maybe Middle Earth) via magic mushrooms and wah wah. The Tadpoles were always so out of their own time that taking a decade off really doesn’t matter; this album could easily have come out in ’99, and I would have enjoyed its slinky grooves then as much as I do today. While the Tadpoles virtually lived in their own analog studio in a Hoboken warehouse, I’m guessing most of Star Chamber was conjured up digitally (and that’s how it’s being released;) but a psychedelic drone is a drone is a drone, and if you liked the Tadpoles way back when, you’ll be eagerly transported back to the same sonic Never-never-land by Todd and the Witches.

From BLISS/AQUAMARINE (UK) / May 2014
www.blissaquamarine.net/albumreviews28.html
- TODD PARKER AND THE WITCHES Greetings from the Star Chamber and Martians CDRs (Bakery)
Todd Parker was a founder member of the band Tadpoles, who released a string of great psych albums throughout the 90s. His current band, Todd Parker and the Witches, have released two albums, 2010's Greetings from the Star Chamber, and latest album Martians. They are both download only, but Todd was kind enough to send me CDR versions due to my 'no downloads' review policy - thank you Todd! Todd Parker and the Witches' music is best described as modern psych-rock, combining as it does aspects of vintage psychedelia with atmospheric and experimental elements that have much in common with various contemporary alternative genres.
Starting with the first album, Chelsea Roses combines woozy, atmospheric psych-rock with heavy, almost metally, riffage. Neutrazona is an off-kilter piece that brings together bits of folk, psych, electronic beats and experimental sound effects. Rodeo Clown Blues '66 is raw, heavy blues-rock with the inventive addition of horns and spacerockish synths. Tingler is a kind of spacerock meets indie-rock thing, heavy yet atmospheric. Give it to the Elf is surrealistic psych-rock with quirky speeded-up vocal effects and bizarre lyrics that paint a vivid picture of a fantasy world populated by elves, mice, and futuristic machines that go 'zap!' Disconnect is an atmospheric track that combines meandering psychedelia with bits and pieces that nod towards post-rock and ambient. Finally there's the title track, a hypnotically repetitive, floaty, dreamlike soundscape that would fall equally comfortably into the experimental, ambient, or psychedelic categories.
Martians is largely characterised by a kind of chilled-out psych-rock that bridges the gap between the vintage and modern forms of this style. There are spacey sound effects here and there, some nice folky touches in the title track, and some eerie, off-centre things going on in Zero Sum. Uncle Martin's Broadcast is an inventive mix of metally riffage, electronic beats, samples, and disorienting sci-fi noises. Aelita is an ethereal psych-folk track with lots of original musical ideas. Conduit has a big atmospheric sound akin to Spacemen 3 or Loop or any number of bands on the Cheree label in the early 90s. Both albums are eclectic yet coherent, running the whole gamut of the psychedelic genre and even showing a willingness to incorporate influences from outside this area of music.

credits

released September 14, 2010

PRODUCED BY TODD PARKER AND MIKE AUDINO
©2010 Todd Parker and the Witches/Bakery Records

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Todd Parker and The Witches Sacramento, California

Todd Parker, songwriter/guitarist/vocalist/founder, of the 1990's Hoboken/NYC psychedelic rockers, Tadpoles returned after a decade off from producing music with Greetings From The Star Chamber in 2010 which has been followed by a series of EPs, singles and 2 more studio albums, the latest being 2013's Martians. Lots more in the works. ... more

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Track Name: Squigs
we exist before our essence
but you said i was wrong
and something comes between us
what do you say

thirsting for the arrow
to shoot ourselves again
and time becomes important
when there’s only so much left
the fear of fear is power
to nothings really there
and nothing will come between us
what do you say

we are whirlwinds who wish were were rocks

©2010 Todd Parker/BMI
Track Name: Turn You Into A Bird
hey little girl haven’t you heard
i can turn you into a bird
just unfold your wings and fly
across the midnight summer sky

bridges span across my mind
a head in the clouds feeling so fine
hey little girl haven’t you heard
i can turn you into bird

come with me
can’t you see now
keep your eyes closed tight
we’ll fly off through the night

hey little friend why don’t you know it
c’mon now why don’t you show it
its a most unusual thing
just float above the trees and sing

dusk rushes in and the kites do their thing
a fog comes to cover everything
you’ll always know when the night has turned
i can turn you into a bird

©2010 Todd Parker/BMI
Track Name: Space Baby
sleep tight my baby and breathe down
don’t let the stars keep you up

its all because of you i’m in peace now
its all because of you, you’re my sun

space baby listens to leaves now
whistling trees just for fun
someday she’ll be home with me now
until then the clouds will succumb

its all because of you i’m in peace now
its all because of you, you’re my sun
its all because of you i’m in peace now
its all because of you, you’re my sun

space baby what’s in your dreams now
do you cry on the grass where you run
i’ll fly on ship to protect you
and rockets wake everyone up

©2010 Todd Parker/BMI
Track Name: The Witch Is Dead
the witch is dead, the witch is dead
can’t you see its over
the green man’s in a far off land
he’s only rolling over
a moon song shining all night long
lights up the sea with clover
ding dong its coming on strong
can’t you see its over

i’ll give it all
and only leave
my sanity behind
someone calls it beautiful
but its so hard to find
i’ll give it all
and only leave
whatever was mine
when i’m lighter
i can breathe
for you

©2010 Todd Parker/BMI
Track Name: Don't See Me
cushion me
from the gaze of the sun
hide me from your cotton mind
i want to stay down
way under the tow
i want to find out how far i can go

don’t see me
let me drift away

©2010 Todd Parker/BMI
Track Name: Chelsea Roses
meet me
greet me
then you come back again
and when you walk away
you’re never going home again
chelsea walls
are closing in tight again
roses floating down
the stairwells of my head again
stars awake
and shimmering their glow again
echoing the sounds
of time
beyond my own again

©2010 Todd Parker/BMI
Track Name: Neutrazona
heading back to neutrazona
through dark kentucky caves
take your time
and get it right
radar bats
lighting up the maze

at the end
begin again
come back for the fight
by the time you get through neutrazona
the sun lights up
the night

©2010 Todd Parker/BMI
Track Name: Rodeo Clown Blues '66
you’ve got nothing more to lose
you’ve got nothing more to do
you’ve got nothing more say
about anything
yeah i’m alright crashing into you
nobody else is smelling so sweet
then you left me waiting for the nighttime bus
first i’m in the sky
and now i’m on the street

you’ve got nothing more to lose
you’ve got nothing more to do
you’ve got nothing more say
about anything


yeah i’m alright crashing into you
move faster now and generate some heat
i only thought forever was forever until you said
fly me to the sky
before you hit the street

you’ve got nothing more to lose
you’ve got nothing more to do
you’ve got nothing more say
about anything

©2010 Todd Parker/BMI
Track Name: Tingler
something’s watching
seems to lose you
drag is pulling
the fire lifts you
and you don’t notice
that something’s burning
feel the tingle
then it drifts you

in the middle
of the morning
feel a tingle
and heed the warning
somethings missing
and there’s no yearning
the past is distant
hear it calling
Track Name: Give It To The Elf
give it to the elf
he’ll put it on the shelf
and play the kind of music
that he wants to hear

give it to the elf
he’ll talk about himself
and show you all the pictures
that he wants to see

zap, its the the nuclear age
zap, it began in a rage
everyone’s gone
and then the man with hair of straw
comes to stay

little gerald mouse
had run around the house
he gets into
all of lissa’s things

little gerald mouse
now runs around the house
teasing all the ladies
in their dungarees

give it to the elf
he’ll put it on the shelf
only gerald mouse
keeps avis away


it began to rain
when the tree would not grow
so cloe got on top of me
and filled the sky with snow

©1991 Todd Parker and Mike Audino/BMI
Track Name: Disconnect
since i’ve been gone a long time
you’re waiting around for the sunshine
well i guess i can see that
no one will be like me

since i’ve been gone a long time
i’m waiting ‘round for the sunshine
don’t expect you to be there soon
and i come back to you

don’t expect to be there soon
when i come back
when i come back
when i come back
when i come back to you

©2010 Todd Parker/BMI
Track Name: Greetings From The Star Chamber
Instrumental