Over the last four years, Seattle synthesist Panabrite (aka Norm
Chambers) has become one of America's most prolific and proficient
creators of transcendent electronic music. Although under-appreciated
in his own city, Chambers has been gaining fans and critical respect
worldwide with a torrent of releases that evoke the prime work of ambient
music's pioneers, the top tier of kosmische-musik makers, and the more
mystical end of the new-age spectrum. He is a disciplined student of
a wide range of cerebral genres, weaving elements from these styles
into his own distinctive tapestries, balancing melodic playfulness with
As noted, Chambers is an ardent explorer of great, underground music
and it's demonstrated on Pavilion as ''a love letter to some Italian albums
from the classic '70s era of minimalism and prog,'' such as Lovisoni/
Messina's Prati Bagnati Del Monte Analogo, Franco Battiato's
Clic, Claudio Rocchi's Suoni Di Frontiera, and American-to-Rome
transplant Alvin Curran's Canti E Vedute Del Giardino Magnetico.
Chambers praises their ''freewheeling studio experimentalism crossed
with the most elegant, stunning (non)ambient music.'' He strove for a
similar feeling in Pavilion by playing 90 percent of everything by hand
and opting for minimal use of sequencers.
Pavilion marks what Chambers calls a slightly ''darker and tenser''
offering in the Panabrite pantheon. He says it's ''a bookend piece to my
2012 album The Baroque Atrium, in that it deals with certain concepts
and ideas of mind-space; an account of a place and time and of the
experience while there.'' The album begins with rain patter (Chambers
does live in Seattle, after all) and keyboards that trigger thoughts of flower
petals slowly opening and feelings of wonder and great expectation.
This is Panabrite in his most traditional new-age mode, but gradually
the mood darkens as he coaxes out a melody of grand despondency.
Things turn even more foreboding on ''Arcade,'' with its warped vocal
blending into pensive, mobile-like Rhodes piano, whose beautiful bell
tones smear and drone ? la Brian Eno's The Shutov Assembly. The
effect is like being enveloped in swirling stardust in a church tower.
''Memory'' elaborates on ''Arcade,'' its contemplative ascending synth
chords sounding like a monastic ringtone. With timbres akin to those
on Spiritualized's Pure Phase Tones For DJs, ''Arcade'' exudes a
Chambers cites ''Regent'' as his favorite track on Pavilion, describing
it as ''the epic struggle, the lay of the land before or after a devastating
occurrence, yet with a pervasive optimism pushing up from the din.''
Alternately urgent and melancholy, ''Regent'' decelerates into an
agonizingly poignant cosmic theme in the vein of Ashra or Harald
Grosskopf. Another highlight is ''Balsam,'' which combines looped
acoustic guitar with a delicate xylophone motif, and synthetic birdsong.
The song carries the same sense of beatific calm and graceful ascension
as previous guitar-enhanced Panabrite titles like ''Janus'' and ''Suite
(For Winnie And Roxy).'' Fans of Gastr Del Sol and Mountains should
Pavilion's last three pieces - ''Pool,'' the title track, and ''Quartz'' - reflect Chambers' increasing compositional prowess, his ability to wring
maximal emotion through minimalist gestures. This concluding trilogy
leads you back to land with a ceremonial majesty and balletic poise.
In a catalog teeming with adventurous, evocative music, Pavilion ranks
up there with Panabrite's most sublime work.
TRACK LISTING :
1. Veil 2. Arcade 3. Memory 4. Regent
5. Balsam 6. Pool 7. Pavilion 8. Quartz
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