Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pan American - "White Bird Release" CD

Mark Nelson (formerly of Labradford)'s 6th album as Pan American is a superlative and evocative set of dense, moody, and atmospheric proto-ambient soundtracks. And with the addition of drums, vibraphone, and bass to some tracks, the approach seems to lend an almost 'band' feel in spots. The opener, 'there can be no thought of finishing', is an ambient glacier of tones and shoegazey-distant vox. 'for aiming at the stars' brings on a dubby bass rhythm to accompany the Fripp-ish guitar textures. 'both literally and figuratively' continues the lonely, natural travelogue with wide-open vistas of blurred guitars, bass, and drums - and accented by whispery vocals. This is perhaps the closest Nelson's Pan American project has come to making 'pop' music in the broad sense. 'how much progress one makes' harkens back to Pan American's earlier works - a submerged minimal electronic pulse that seems like an underwater approximation. The closer, 'in a letter to H.G. Wells, 1932', is a gentle drone that eventually builds itself up to the point of being a cacophony of electronic static. If Pan American seeks to paint expansive visuals in sound form, then 'White Bird Release' is unequivocally a success, conjuring a sense of nature with a hint (or warning) of something bigger than us. This is some truly beautiful music that follows no formulas, yet ends up affirming what is really important about life - the journey. (Kranky)

Pan American info@kranky

Labradford site

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