Panabrite – The Baroque Atrium (Preservation)


Recorded during the last northern spring, Seattle denizen Norm Chambers’ second album as Panabrite seems to hold no special allegiance to any particular season. That’s despite both its title and the presence of insect life and running water in the backdrop of some of these analogue synth instrumentals. Sure, it’s easy to imagine a peaceful brook inspiring the trickling melodies of “Humid Transmissions’ or muse about the role of the Italian island that’s the namesake of “Capraia’, but none of it’s obvious. For me, this music reflects back on itself more than on the material world.

At any rate, it’s the changing dynamics that really hold sway: even with the ghost of vocodered vocals as its identifying trait, “Spetses’ proves more gripping in its internal rhythms while still maintaining the lighthearted outer aura that sets Panabrite apart from grimmer peers. It’s always interesting to see how things will play out, whether in the relatively faster-moving “Departing’ – harder to get an immediate hold of – and the considered hovering that is “Infinite Passage’. Chambers’ interest in warm progressions is most apparent in “Interfrequencies’, during which threads converge after a few minutes for a trippy, multiplied effect.

That one is almost suite-like in its distinct segments, but a bit later comes just that: the 17-minute “Suite (for Winnie and Roxy)’. It’s more like an ambient work than the rest: softer and much slower, with undefined and drawn-out textures instead of bright, thin lines. The introduction of acoustic guitar, albeit delicate, is unexpected and conjures more of a New Age vibe. While Chambers does establish more traction in the midsection’ pronounced build, in the quest for such pillow-y expansiveness he cedes a lot of the control that defines the other tracks. Like everything here, though, it has a great many nourishing sounds on offer.

Doug Wallen


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