John Parnell is a, composer, I guess is the right word, from Alabama. Parnell’s musical project is called 061180 for reasons that are probably obvious. I call this project a band in the loosest sense of the word. When I conjure up the image of a band I think of several individuals coming together with similar influences or sometimes disparate influences and creating music based on those influences and experiences. To call 061180 a band might be too kind. 061180 is John Parnell and John Parnell alone. He has created his “music” he tells us with a gadget called The Reach, manufactured by a company called NoiseKICK. The Reach is actually a guitar pedal described as a custom distortion + tremolo + oscillating noisemaker. I like to poke fun at records like this because I know that an unsuspecting public would be aghast at the sounds present on 061180’s newest release “I'm considering being a cloud”.
In actuality, Parnell extends a long musical heritage starting after World War II known as the Avant-garde movement. The grandfather of the genre is Arnold Schoenberg and his famous experiments with the twelve tone scale. Schoenberg’s contributions to musical theory have been called the most influential of the 20th century so let’s not discount 061180 out of hand. Post Schoenberg, composers like Philip Glass and John Cage brought those theories to classical music and in turn artists like Brian Eno, Edgar Froese and Robert Fripp brought the theories to rock.
To a casual listener, it sounds like simply noise. In actuality, it is noise, ambient noise, and there is more thought and effort put into it that may be evident at the surface. Parnell states his music “plays like the score to a depraved horror movie. The first parts are quiet but hint to an ominous under belly. While the last parts are loud and sinister.” All in all, a pretty apt description. Ambient music is designed to highlight tone and atmosphere rather than traditional instrumentation and melody so based on that criteria, 061180’s “I'm considering being a cloud” is a triumph.
Uncle Duke; a.k.a. Rob Penland is the producer and host of "The Mad Music Asylum" a 4 hour weekly syndicated radio show and now a 24 hour streaming internet station.