15 years after N’écoutez pas, Canadian band Fly Pan Am returned a new album called C’est ça in 2019. They quietly reunited in late 2017 for purely artistic reasons (needless to say), to explore making new music together after more than a decade spent in pursuit of separate sonic adventures. A few months after “Mirror Cracks Seeking Interiority” for Corona Borealis Longplay Singles Series., they have announced the release of a new album.
Frontera will be out on May 21st via Constellation Records. According to the press release, Juxtaposing stern foreboding electronics and minimalist motorik avant-rock, the Frontera studio album superbly captures the bristling, sculpted, intensely evocative live score that Fly Pan Am developed in close conception and collaboration with Dana Gingras and her Montréal-based dance troupe Animals Of Distinction.
Watch the official video for the track “Grid/Wall” and check their list with 6 artists tracks which have inspired their music. It features Scott Walker, Joanna Newsom and many more.
This Heat – Horizontal Hold. From This Heat. This song is composed of constantly changing variations on the same theme. It feels like a collage because of the tight abrupt cuts and change of moods but it is in fact all played live in the studio. It is at once minimal and complex. We often come back to This Heat for inspiration because they are all over the place but a musical identity remains. We hope to have the same kind of effect with our records: never repeating ourselves without losing our identities as musicians.
Nicolas Collins – A Letter From My Uncle. From Let The State Make The Selection. I have always been fascinated by mythical record labels that were nesting electronic aesthetics. They gave me a sense of depth and infinitude. One of the labels I instantly connected with was Lovely Music, presumably because my encounter with American pioneers like Robert Ashley, Gordon Mumma, Alvin Lucier, David Berhman and Maryanne Amacher, was a “don’t look back” type of intrigue. Soon, I discovered that the world of some these composers was infused with phenomenal stage performance and art installations, with an “everything is possible” outlook. I also related keenly with their in-depth and intricate research for instrumental audio processing. As a guitar performer, I’m fascinated by the potential of the guitar input going through any kind of audio processing, so I was very interested in finding out if there was perhaps a guitarist who might have released music on the label. It took me a while but I eventually found out about the work of Nicolas Collins with Let The State Make The Selection, the first track from A Letter From My Uncle. Recently, I read a brief paper written by Collins himself, A Brief History of the “Backwards Electric Guitar.”, and I discovered that a band had been formed in order to create the piece. Here is a quote from his text that clearly demonstrates what he was trying to do with this work: “I built a backwards bass and another guitar and formed a band. Via a computer-controlled matrix switcher the players could call up a range of driving signals, from radios and prepared cassette tapes, to microphones into which they could talk or sing.”
After reading this, I felt a weird sense of historic endorsement of what I’ve been trying to do since the beginning of my involvement with Fly Pan Am.
Bulbs – Yoke. From Color Attic. Hailing from Los Angeles, Bulbs is the enhanced post-guitar cyber “rock” duo of Jon Almaraz and William Sabiston, but don’t let the term “rock” fool you since they sound anything but “rock”. Jon plays guitar and William plays drums but both instruments are heavily processed via pedals, electronics and computer, and they make some very psychedelic jams. This track in particular kinda feels like something Chain Reaction might have produced if they were trying to channel some Ashra cosmic vibes. Very smooth and dreamy. The other stuff they do sounds wackier in the best possible way.
A.R. Kane – The Madonna is With Child. From 69. A song like this totally exemplifies what I love about contrasting totally improbable things together, which is something Fly Pan Am certainly strives for in our work. I just love how it starts off as a kind of dreamy soulful ballad that eventually gets contaminated with some pretty out there Fushitsusha-like guitar playing. Oddly enough, even though I was a huge shoegaze fan in my teens I was only aware of A.R. Kane in name, as their stuff didn’t really make it across the ocean, at least not to Canada, and I wonder if it wasn’t because their music was a bit harder to pin down than most other dream pop/shoegaze acts. I truly only discovered them while we were working on “C’est ça” back in 2016, and I was really impressed by how forward-thinking their stuff was for the 80’s, mixing experimental production with dub, shoegaze vibes, freeform parts, jazz and noisy bits.
Joanna Newsom – Emily. From Ys. This song is so beautifully crafted. The harp and voice mark the mood but very quickly, Van Dyke Parks’ orchestration enters and the song becomes something else. The orchestration seems to play off the spaces in between rather than on the music itself. Finding holes here and there in the semi continuity of the voice and the harp. At times it seems on its own, almost as if two songs were playing in almost perfect sync. Other times it fights the harp’s rhythms while still elevating the voice’s quality and emotionality. This is exemplified many times on the record to such an extent that there are even a few beautiful little moments of purposely harmonious disagreements. To this day, I am still in awe of the arrangements, not fully understanding how all of it came together, which is fine by me and maybe even preferred. Not knowing keeps me gently rocked and thrown around by the song’s flow, uniqueness and construction. Oh, and for a few seconds, there’s a mouth harp and a banjo. For just a few seconds. And then we’re off again. And then, well then, then there’s the rest of the record…
Scott Walker – The Cockfighter. From Tilt. The first time I heard this track was the first time I heard Scott Walker. I had no idea if I liked it or hated it, but I knew I had just heard something special, something that was going to change me. Now years later, it’s still just as weird as it was but I know that I love it. It’s such a beautiful play on expectations and [listener] – response.
And yet, there is a story, a continuity, a definite structure, just nothing obvious.
When I first heard this song I instantly knew that whether I liked it or not was irrelevant. Far more important was the fact that concepts of structure, genre and sounds were being challenged and redefined, far more important were all the artistic possibilities arising from such a joyful shocking discovery. At least 20 years now have passed since I first heard this song and it definitely had and still has a profound effect on me.