In his fourth full-length effort under the moniker Wolff Parkinson White, jazz drummer Jochen Rueckert continues to indulge – and, oh boy, does he indulge – in his penchant for spasmodic electro-beats and anxious, non-traditional melodies. The name refers to the genetic heart condition which Rueckert suffers from, characterised by random, irregular heartbeats, light-headedness and feelings of anxiety or exhaustion. An appropriate name if there ever was one.
Lead single and album opener Sand, is a sign of things to come: erratic audio-processing is set over more traditional pop melodies, a marriage of cold mechanised beats and warm, subtle harmonies. The latter will certainly hold more appeal to the average listener and, indeed, one finds themselves wishing that Rueckert would hush up a little with that drum machine. This is followed by Department of Failure, featuring Grammy award-winner Norah Jones, a challenging but patently more focused effort. Basically, it’s what Sand should have been.
Things begin to let up as the album progresses and, as we find ourselves at the mid-point of the album, Bereavement, Eh and Light Fall Shadow provide us with some welcome respite. Indeed, the latter of the two is rather gorgeous: Amanda Baisinger’s dulcet tones take the lead as a more subtle, warping electro-beat adds nuance rather than overpowering the palette, as it has been wont to do up to this point.
Favours is an exhausting listen but, due in no small part to the talents of a plethora of guest vocalists, it is Rueckert’s most accessible work to-date. That being said, it is a messy, indulgent, borderline masturbatory album. This is possibly the point of the thing; a man who self-describes as ‘Venetian Snares for the less-harmonically challenged’ must live for this sort of reaction. However, one can’t help thinking that if three-chord rock and roll is the juicy burger, then Rueckert has provided the dressing-less salad: I know it’s good for me and I know I should be grateful for it but it feels like a chore to get through.