JOHN PARISH with Sue Gardner at the El Mocambo (464 Spadina), Tuesday (March 11). $12.50 advance, $15 door. 416-870-8000, 416-777-1777.
despite the fact that his number's on speed dial at Polly Harvey's, Tracy Chapman's and E's from the Eels, Bristol-based producer and guitarist-for-hire John Parish admits that he never has his dinners interrupted by overzealous autograph seekers. A lifelong association with Harvey, whose To Bring You My Love from 95 stands as her best album, has led to his involvement on such critically acclaimed discs as Goldfrapp's Felt Mountain, Sparklehorse's It's A Wonderful Life and Giant Sand's Chore Of Enchantment.
Admittedly, they're not the sort of register-ringers you can retire on, but his knack for making musical sense out of quirky sounds and unusual arrangements earned him a reputation as the go-to guy for adventurous projects.
Parish's offbeat score for Belgian Patrice Toye's film Rosie won the special jury prize at the Bonn International Film Music Biennale and demonstrated his flair for the dramatic that carries over to his recent How Animals Move (Thrill Jockey) disc.
Recorded in bits and pieces over the past four years, the mostly instrumental album finds Parish in soundtrack mode, using his 11-piece orchestra, featuring Portishead keys man Adrian Utley, to conjure the eerie shadow world of a noir crime thriller.
"When I began the album," explains Parish from his Bristol home, "I just had these pieces of music I'd written for no particular reason. I liked the ideas and I had some free time, so I put them down on tape.
"I was still working on my album when I got asked to do the score for Rosie, and that put me in a soundtrack frame of mind. The things I began writing were these atmospheric instrumental pieces that could be put to use in a film.
"Once I put together the 11-piece ensemble, my writing became purely an exercise in composing for a specific group of musicians and instruments. I had no visual images in mind, but I can see how you could lift any piece from the album, put it with the right bit of film and it would seem like it was meant to be there. I've already been approached by a number of people about doing just that."
Recreating the unsettling vibe of How Animals Move onstage may seem like an insurmountable task, yet Parish is confident his band can pull it off.
"Because I was able to get so many of the people who played on the record -- Adrian Utley (guitar), Clare McTaggart (violin), Jeremy Hogg (slide guitar), Tammy Payne (drums), Jim Barr (bass), Ben Shillabeer (guitar), Aaron Jury (coronet), Jesse Morningstar (noises) -- the task of presenting this music live has been made relatively easy, musically speaking at least.
"But with a group this size it's been very difficult logistically to schedule anything and also very expensive. Since we're only doing a two-week tour, it's manageable.
"Anyone interested in seeing this show, now's the time. The only place I'll ever perform with this many musicians again is at home in Bristol."firstname.lastname@example.org