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Quiet City

Pan American
Quiet City

Quiet City seems to be a very apt title for this newest release by Pan American. After slowly stretching out into more and more electronic areas on his previous two releases (360 Business / 360 Bypass and The River Made No Sound), this 8 track effort finds Mark Nelson (also of Labradford) backing off ever so slightly and the result is another hypnotic release that slow burns its way into your daily routines. It's a fuzzy blanket of a sountrack that is slightly on the melancholy side without being too dour.

The first release from the Kranky label to feature both a CD and a DVD (a video essay shot by Nelson and Chicago visual artist Annie Feldmeier), the release is sort of like a hushed and distilled version of everything that Pan American has done to date. The opener of "Before" is a stark, barren landscape with only quiet drones, guitars, and vocals (which recalls work of his first self-titled release), while "Smallholding" is a slowly-progressing track that flickers with static and filters live drums through a landscrape that drifts between coral reefs and whispy clouds.

Honestly, it's the live instrumentation that breathes new life into this newest release. Although "Hall And Skylight" takes on a more typical band feel with quiet guitars and percussion (and even horns at the end), the touches of guitar (as on the gorgeous "Inside Elevation") filtered through a sort of hazy minimal electronic aesthetic are what really work the best. Unlike his last release, where several tracks seemed to simply go on for too long, Nelson also seems to have made better choices in terms of editing this time around. Although there are a couple tracks that stretch out to nearly 9 minutes, they're balanced nicely with shorter tracks and progress at a rate that don't just rely on loops with a micro-element changed. Quiet City is a comfortable and inviting album, and Nelson seems to have found a comfortable place with his sound on it.

Rating: 7.75