Friday 30 October 2020

Half-lights and misty streetscapes: Melissa Parmenter's Messapica

Melissa Parmenter: Messapica
Melissa Parmenter is something of a polymath, combining careers as film producer and a composer, sometimes overlapping them when she writes film scores. I interviewed her in 2017 when her EP Scandinavia was released, and now Melissa Parmenter has a new mini-album, Messapica released on Globe Soundtrack and Score which features eight tracks performed by Parmenter herself on piano and cellist Harry Escott.

Parmenter was born in Italy, and spent much of her childhood there, and it is this country which has influenced the new album as Parmenter has created eight evocative sound pictures based around her own piano technique.

The music is often gentle and thoughtful, blending in and out of sound-scapes so that the opening 'Mezzogiorno' starts with the tolling of a bell and the sounds of a town, and 'Bosco Verde' starts with the sound of the sea. Other tracks such as 'Martina Franca' include Harry Escott's soulful cello. Escott is an artist with whom Parmenter has worked before, and her 2017 EP Scandinavia included a track with Escott. 

Parmenter's film background comes through in some pieces, so that 'Locorotondo' sounds like we are watching an unseen film as does the highly evocative 'Cisternino', and sometimes you wish that Parmenter could break free both of film and of the idea of writing a 'track' (the pieces on the new album are all under 4:30) and write something a little more extended, and occasionally move away from the sense of Mozartian Alberti-bass and Philip Glass noodling with an evocative line above. She has, however, a real ability to capture an atmosphere. Those on the disc are by turns evocative and melancholy; this is not an Italy of bright colours and vibrant noise, but one of half-lights and misty streetscapes.

A graduate of Music from Durham University, Melissa Parmenter began her collaboration with British film director Michael Winterbottom in 2003, first working on In This World and then producing his films for over 10 years, including The Face of an Angel with Kate Beckinsale, The Wedding Guest with Dev Patel, and most recently Greed for Sony & Film4, starring Steve Coogan, Isla Fisher & David Mitchell. Parmenter was nominated as a film producer for a BAFTA TV Award, she has also been nominated for a European Film Award. Having had her music featured in Tracey Emin’s biographical film TOP SPOT, Parmenter has also composed the score to films such as Genova, starring Colin Firth and Catherine Keener and The Killer Inside Me starring Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson.

Melissa Parmenter - Messapica [28:02]
Melissa Parmenter (piano)
Harry Escott (cello)
Recorded & mixed by Nick Taylor at Air Edel Studios
Globe Soundtrack & Score [28:02]

Available on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon

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