Fly Pan Am
Fly Pan Am are the black sheep of the Constellation Records family. On a label know for its grudging resolution to face the horrors of the modern world head on, Pan Am strives for a block party at the end of the world.
The dance floor battle largely consists of the band trying to maintain a halfway cohesive/linear movement through mounting layers of tape manipulation and electronic dissonance. The album’s two epic gamut-running tracks are “Autant zig-zag” and “Tres tres retro.” The former creates the root of melody through elastic bass lines which blossom into distant seas of distorted guitars. The song’s dynamic abruptly changes at its midpoint, taking on a dourer flavor of carbonated tape fizz and jet fuel splattered dark psychedelics. “Tres tres retro” showcases abrasive keyboards and off-kilter rhythm arrangements, but a clear invitation to dance still remains. The beat is subtly broken down through its basest elements by an acid bath of pink noise to a few moments of actual silence before the bass line is resurrected and the battle is rejoined.
The rest of the disc is made up of fleeting moments of clashing musicality: immediate, angular post-punk with disorienting, claustrophobia inducing stethoscopic sounds and single string guitar minimalism and foggy autumn synths with loping heart attack beats.
To be honest, although this is as close to an upbeat “pop” flirtation as I’ve heard from a Constellation band, N’ecoutez pas is the least immediately enjoyable of the label’s recent releases. The disc is well worth the extra listening investment, though. It provides a valuable counterpoint to Constellation’s more brooding releases by asking the question, “If the end is nigh, shouldn’t we start destroying pop music?” I say emphatically, Yes.