In spite of the fact that we’ve encountered him before – emerging from the shadows to complete his father’s final album and to appear at 2002’s Concert For George, and as frontman and guitarist for Thenewno2 – it’s almost impossible to approach Dhani Harrison’s debut album under his own name without harbouring certain expectations.
Up until now, Dhani’s modus operandi has been something of a dichotomy. On the one hand, by embracing the anonymity of Thenewno2, he appeared to be purposefully distancing himself from his cumbersome legacy. Yet to encounter his band, however briefly, it was impossible not to notice that Dhani not only sounded like his father, a situation Thenewno2’s guitar-based format only served to accentuate, but that – all middle-parted, dark-browed and brooding – he offered a resemblance as uncanny as it was flaunted. It seemed that while Dhani strove to be his own artist, he could no more dismiss his father’s legend than we could.
With IN///PARALLEL, Dhani Harrison has discarded a good deal of his inherited baggage, drawn upon his inner strengths and ultimately found himself. When recently encountered, he was almost unrecognisable: hair cut, side-parted, beard, heavy horn-rim spectacles masking that unmistakable proto-Gallagher brow. It’s a new look, clearly timed to complement a new sound. Material based in the melodic sensibilities of tradition are swathed in contemporary electronica, there’s the suggestion of Thenewno2 alt-rock, but atmospheric ambient and trip-hop devices season each composition to perfection. And while there are sure signs of inherited stylings here – Never Know’s sitars and tablas, the haunted-by-the-ghost-of-I Want You (She’s So Heavy) closing crescendoes of Admiral Of Upside Down, the tonal quality of Harrison’s vocal and guitar – IN///PARALLEL is an intrinsically progressive album that marries the psychedelic spaciness of modern electronica with an intuitive understanding of the dynamics of pop, the taut melodic power or rock and the free spirit of unfettered fusion.
Arriving into an era of marketing-led generic apartheid, the album harks back to an era of boundless experimentation (All About Everything’s ‘It’s not like it used to be’ coda merely presses the point home). Perhaps, it’s only the Harrison name that allows Dhani the uncommon artistic freedom to experiment under corporate auspices in the current market. Whatever, it would appear that of all the things Dhani has inherited from his father his priceless spirit of adventure and boundless capacity for invention are both put to good use on this remarkable and wholly satisfying collection.