Panabrite, Illumination

Crawford Philleo

Panabrite

Cover art and tape design

If you weren't already aware, Seattle's Norm Chambers recently issued an LP called The Soft Terminal on Digitalis. And it is marvelous. But this is not that. This is a tape issued sometime last year on Michel Krasna's excellent SicSic imprint that is now sold out from the source, but likely available through one of its many distributors (see here). And I've heard some rumors that Illumination may be getting the vinyl re-issue treatment fairly soon, so consider this post a heads-up on that as well. Bottom line, get The Soft Terminal, see if you can scrounge around for this tape… just get whatever you can from this guy, because it's bound to be good.

This installment of Chambers' ever-growing discography is a nice look into the beautiful galaxy of Panabrite. Definitey dialed into the word “future” as an adjective, listening is like watching a slow-motion shot of the cosmos from the observation deck of the Enterprise. It's quite deep and dark and mysterious, but never dour or depressing. Curiousity, wonder, waking-dream states, floating. These are the associations of a late evening with Illumination. Chambers' style sounds a bit like an audio equivalent to pointilism. Impressionistic, smooth shapes culled from stark dots of sound; light, staccato synth droplets that feel randomized with some silky, synth-stringy legatos that glow with life beneath. Sometimes a little rhythm here and there there, classic Casio hi-hat sounds and delicate bass hits. His instruments (whatever particular synths those may be, or even his own voice, vocoded) offer up a wide variety of maleable textures that can be pointy, soft, squiggly, spooky and clean. But what really gets me about Panabrite is how he volumizes these textures. Whether that means some tasteful tremolo on a lead synth line or that the sparse layers are given ample space and enormous depth. Bits and pieces peak out from behind each other, rise, fall, micro-differentials in pitch or dyanmics make little melodies out of non-melodies that tiptoe around one another. Everything seems to be exploring its own particular contribution to the mix with dynamic as well as stereophonic movements.

With everything Panabrite's released over the past few years, you'd think he'd have a bit more rep by this point. But it seems like folks are just starting to catch on (yers-truly included). This year… someone must of spiked his coffee or something. He's definitely on a roll, and no time better than now to hop the train and get lost in some music that is both a complex thing of interest and a simple thing of beauty to investigate.

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