Rangers – Pan Am Stories

This is an LP of its time. And faces the same pitfalls. Just like all those “old” looking pictures that Gilded Youth delights to create using Instagram, it’s not always about the effect but ultimately about how to present good content.

 

Not Not Fun Records http://www.konkurrent.nl

 

An enjoyable LP, this; a strange kind of travelogue imagined entirely from a bedroom; a dream of times gone by. I’m guessing but I think Pan Am Stories is an attempt to get inside the head of some wistful teen who’s flicking through travel brochures around 1975… a seventies dreamscape of Jet Stream / Oh Calcultta / prog / and dreams of endless sunny skies and food cooked with garlic. That it is bedroom rock is undeniable. You can’t imagine this record being created in a studio though the techniques (that idea of “patina” – using all the fuzzy distortions and wobble and background noise as part of the songs themselves) have been played about with in varying ways since White Heat White Light, the Faust Tapes & Eno’s early ambient work. Digital technologies have added further strange warps and sonic byways to this technique and in essence this is what we get here, a further, upgraded distillation of the patina approach: a strange amalgam of distorted noise that drives the melody.

The sound is squeezed into a tinny mid-range, warm guitar strums and distorted keys, propped up by an affable sounding bass that quietly prods the music along now and again from the background. None of it is difficult to listen to – it is catchy stuff, there are some good singable melody lines in this dusty, warm-toned LP. Tracks like Bronze Casket and Luncheon Ghana also bring to mind the Durutti Column’s dreamy vibe. But it is very laid back stuff. And at times there is the danger that the music could carry on just replicating itself in the same manner albeit in a different key. When Pan Am Stories gets ambitious is when it is at its best. Zeke’s Dream is fourteen minutes and a mix of lazy riffs and almost accidental beauty (half way through the track evolves into a beautiful spacey bubbling sound). The track has room to challenge itself and map out its ideas, flex its muscle, that kind of thing.

This is an LP of its time. And faces the same pitfalls. Just like all those “old” looking pictures that Gilded Youth delights to create using Instagram, it’s not always about the effect but ultimately about how to present good content. Luckily this LP avoids the trap of just relying on a trendy, groovy sound. I’m sure that someone will (cleverly) say “you’re missing the point the effect is the content” but well, go listen to Sister Ray- let’s see if this work stands a similar test of time.