Saturday 24 January 2015

Review of 'Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper' by Panda Bear

A popular pastime of mine is thinking about what it feels like to die. I'm great at parties.

Is dying scary? Is it painful? Is it pleasant? Is it trippy?

It’s been speculated by some researchers that when we finally give up the ghost our bodies release DMT, a highly psychedelic chemical, into our bloodstream that causes us to spend our last split-seconds of life in an otherworldly deep hallucinatory state.

Perhaps Panda Bear has been reading up on this concept. Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper centres around the theme of death. However, instead of going down your usual morbid, dark route, the Baltimore experimental artist seems to paint a more kaleidoscopic picture.

The spacey Tron synths and dreamy Beach Boys vocal harmonies that Panda Bear has incorporated in the past make a return here. On top are more effects than ever before – lashings of reverb, phasers and loud distortion. The focus is on creating deep, interesting textures in each song. I love a good bit of texture in my music. Hell, I like texture outside my music too. You should see my extensive collection of carpet samples.

I'm all about honeycomb velvet

Whilst the texture is all very impressive, the substance underneath is slightly lacking in places. Progression seems to take a backseat on this record with a lot of the instrumentals sticking to a rigid pattern from the off and failing to evolve further. Once you’ve heard the first forty seconds of one song you’ve pretty much heard it all.

Still, some tracks despite their repetitiveness, do manage to keep the listener hooked throughout just via their texture alone. The opener, ‘Sequential Circuits’with its sweetly layered vocal harmonies and the beautiful and hazy harp-assisted ‘Tropic of Cancer’ are absolutely hypnotic. That’s a good word for Panda Bear’s style, hypnotic. The distant vocals and dense repetitive instrumentals make this feel like the kind of album made for meditating too. Hang on, let me light some incense sticks and open up my chakras and stroke some carpet tiles whilst thinking about dying.

Me whilst listening to this album

Oh dear, what has this album done to me.