Parlour grew out of the Kentucky art/post-rock scene that produced such talents as Slint, Papa M, the Kilowatthours, and My Morning Jacket. The group layers gentle guitar chords, warm synthesizers, and downtempo beats with Krautrock influences for multi-textured grooves that would make perfect company for Tortoise.
Parlour was formed in 1999 in Louisville, Kentucky, by Tim Furnish. In the late '80s and early '90s, Furnish helped build the Kentucky post-rock scene characterized by Slint with his art rock sextet Cerebellum, whose members went on to form Crain, Rodan, Matmos, and Sunspring. Over the years, Furnish seemed to disappear from view, just playing as a guest musician for Ariel M and the for Carnation. But Furnish was hard at work on new, original material. Over a four-year period, he enlisted the help of friends -- including his brother Simon Furnish and Crain members Jon Cook, Todd Cook, Tony Bailey, and Will Hancock -- and then finally merged with the experimental pop group Paden to create Parlour.
Parlour's stunning, densely structured, and meditative debut, Octopus Off-Broadway, was released on Temporary Residence, one of the most important labels for post-rock music in the United States, in April of 2002. Only five months later, the group released their second album, Googler, which consisted of freshly mixed material recorded during the late '90s. The album balanced jazzy instrumental rock with more electronic experiments. The band almost completely overhauled its lineup for its next recording, the EP Hives Fives, which appeared in 2005. On this release, Furnish lead a seven-piece lineup with bass clarinet player Steve Good, tenor saxophone player Craig McClurkin, and vibraphonist/synthesizer player Ben Vandermeer, continuing their jazzy, electronic-influenced sound.
Parlour shifted its roster once more for 2010's Simulacrenfield, which featured former Cerebellum guitarist Breck Pipes as well as bassist Nadeem Siddiqi and synthesizer player Mac Finley, in addition to several returning members. The album was notably tighter and slightly more aggressive than previous Parlour outings, but still contained their usual adventurous, jazzy elements. Six years later, Parlour returned with a self-titled album and yet another revamped lineup, with Furnish and Pipes joined by Evan Bailey, Clayton Ray, and Brian Sweeney. The album was more guitar-heavy than their previous few releases, doing away with woodwinds and adding more of a suspenseful, cinematic feel. ~ Charles Spano & Paul Simpson