WOLFF PARKINSON WHITE – VERITABLE RAPUNZEL (Self-Released, 2021)

Drummer Jochen Rueckert revives his experimental (and drum-less) electronic project Wolff Parkinson White, and it’s another wild, adventurous ride.

For more than a decade, the German-born, New York-based drummer Jochen Rueckert has enjoyed stepping away from the drum kit to indulge in what he refers to on his Bandcamp page as “hard-to-listen-to electronic music.” Indeed, Wolff Parkinson White, the electronic project named after the heart disease Rueckert has had the displeasure of living with, contains some seriously twitchy music that refuses to succumb to any boundaries. Last year’s WPW project, Favours, was a bit of an outlier in that he recruited a variety of vocalists – including Norah Jones, Jesse Murphy, Larissa Hopwood and Alexa Barchini – to accompany the intricate electronic soundscapes. 

With the new Wolff Parkinson White album, Veritable Rapunzel, Rueckert has returned to a purely instrumental setup. The vocalists are gone, allowing the music – which he describes this time around as “a bit more out there” – to fly freely. Rueckert hits the ground running with the rapid-fire clatter of “Terminal Gluten Intolerance,” allowing occasional disembodied voice samples to creep into the complex rhythms and general chaos. Reuckert’s WPW project may not be signed to a label, but the unhinged nature of the music – particularly on the opening track – would feel right at home among Orange Milk’s roster. 

More sustained notes make their way into “Factoidal Anti-Marcomancy,” giving off a bit more traditional musicality and the distinct air of a dystopian science fiction landscape (with the somewhat anomalous collection of spoken word samples). On “Unapologetically Engineered Nothingness,” Rueckert cools off even more, with an almost meditative, Bladerunner-like ambience. There’s nary a twitchy moment in the entire track, and the spacy, deliberately paced pseudo-orchestrations are interrupted only near the end with the ubiquitous voice sampling. 

On “Heathrow of Emotions,” Rueckert finds a happy medium between the furious glitches and the more contemplative moments as an odd, metallic pipe sound – containing far fewer rough edges than many other tracks on the album – is responsible for the chaotic but weirdly calming track. Rueckert manages to dial down the temperature but still keeps it busy and interesting. “Radically Normcore” is also something of a gauzy, opaque track – still complex but hidden under a palpable fuzz. It’s highly admirable how Rueckert manages to give so much of this sonic density and insanity such a wide palette of patches and filters. 


“Jochen does not play drums on this recording,” Rueckert makes a point of noting on the credits of Veritable Rapunzel, perhaps as something of a caveat emptor to fans of his jazz projects. While this is certainly true, it’s fun to see him electronically indulging his love of percussion on the lively closing track, “Gynocentric Emblemist.” A heavily percussive track with dizzying complexity, it’s rapturous proof – and just one of a dozen highly enjoyable tracks – that you can’t totally take the drummer out of the electronics.

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