There was a time a few years back where I became so obsessed with DIY packaging for music that I spent a period listening exclusively to releases that had some element of the hand made in their artwork. One of the releases that gained a lot of airtime as a result of this policy was Inch-time’s debut, Any Colour You Like. That mini-album was grounded in source material inspired by gamelan and other Javan and Balinese roots. It pulsed organically while the background saw subtle electronics chirp away (and the woodblock print artwork was exquisite).
Myth And Impermanence reveals Stefan Panczak as still concerned with those same obsessions, that is, blending exquisitely recorded organic material with subtle digital processing that adds layers of depth to the source material. Right from the outset, with ‘Time Of The Fire’s opening cymbal wash, this is apparent. This isn’t just a drummer brushing their hardware aimlessly, but a looped section which has the effect of creating the required ambience, yet keeping you on your toes as to whether what you are hearing is mere studio generality, or mediated sonic construction. This tension never lets up, no matter how soothing or mellow the results might become. ‘Woods’ revolves around the stunted type of breakbeat groove in which Howie B excelled in his heyday, with various strange doorbell samples and Rhodes vibrations swirling around the mix. ‘Stapedius’ introduces Miles Davis mellow trumpet interjections over a rhythmic bed initially built of loops of gentle trumpet breath, before building to a more foreboding soundworld. ‘Home’ heads into classic Massive Attack territory with its minimal dub bass and skittering hi-hats. ‘Impermanence’ finishes the album on a skittering fractal note, digitally processed grains of sound eventually overwhelmed by swathes of new age synths.
Panczak has enlisted the services of Alex Bonney on trumpet, Olie Brice on bass and Karl Penney on drums. The trio serve him well and it is often difficult to discern if a track is a single, long-form improvisation or chopped and reconstructed snippets that were originally unrelated. The results often rest somewhere between peak era trip-hop and cool jazz, but without any of the aural wallpaper connotations that description might conjure. Mellow and relaxing, yes, but never mindless or banal. Subtly psychedelic and engagingly listenable, Myth And Impermanence is a highlight signpost in the travels of Stefan Panczak and his aural explorations.