I'll admit, this is my first introduction to Mark Nelson's project, Pan‚Ä¢American. Even though I had read a little blurb concerning his first album in Magnet, I imagined that I would be hearing something very similar to Nelson's other musical venture, Labradford.
I was kind of in for a surprise when I put this album on. Immediately pumping out of the speakers were rolling basslines, shards of keyboard, and lots of reverb and echo, the perfect combination for a nice electronic dub album. It seems that most of the musical avant-garde and indie rock world is turning to dub for its widespread influences, with bands from Pole to Twilight Circus churning out some of the most original music to be heard in recent times. But, what's nice about each of these new dub releases is that they each have their own individual flair and flavor.
Pan‚Ä¢American is no exception to this, soliciting a great vocal appearances on "Code" from Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Low. They add a great depth and dimension to the track, infusing it with beautiful, trance-like vocals that come damn near close to giving this track some dancehall sensibility. But, this isn't music for the dancehall. It's music for some unknown tropical ambient lounge.
Guest appearances on "Both Ends Fixed" and "Coastal" by cornetist Rob Mazurek of Isotope/Chicago Underground lend a jazz sensibility. While it might not have been what I was initially expecting, this album is easily one of the best of the year to date, and one that I plan on taking along with me on my next journey to the beach. Great driving music, by the way.