Panabrite: The Baroque Atrium – experiments with electronic sound. (music review)
I never thought a vocoder could produce a sound that moved me after ELO ruined them forever, but Panabrite’s The Baroque Atrium is an album filled with surprises and that’s just one of them. Panabrite is the solo recording project for Norm Chambers and this is the second album under that moniker.
This is a beautifully made record that has grown on me over the past few months. The first listen lends to the ambient setting, as Panabrite mixes lilting synth sounds with natural water flow, bird song and gentle breeze. Further listening revealed the prog and jazz roots, sewn well into the fabric of each track, so that the ambient label never sits completely over the sound. Remarkably, the natural sounds mesh well with the electronic, a rather astonishing sound feat if you think about sound at its source. The natural sounds manage to bring something out that lovers of electronic music (such as myself) have always known, and that is the soul filled softness at the heart of electronic music.
Despite its adherence to melody and a certain kind of accessibility part of the charm of The Baroque Atrium is its experimental reach. Repeated synth riffs – reminding me at times of The Necks – swirling gives weight to light playful melodies. The repetition can be part of the Baroque contribution and the lightness of the synth does carry an almost pipe organ / harpsichord feel at times notable particularly on the seventeen minute long ‘Suite (for Winnie and Roxy)’, a relentless swirling track that starts with an acoustic guitar addition and ends with the synth repetition moving to the fore.
Another connection with the Baroque is the mood. Ambient sounds can often fall into a naive reverie, but the unashamed joy expressed in The Baroque Atrium is embedded within the tone, not in the philosophy. It makes for a less self-conscious listening experience Without working within the tonal scope of Baroque, a broad range of emotion is non-the-less achieved which makes the album so interesting. It easily dons the mantles of jazz, prog, ambient and electronic choosing to retain an inventiveness to cover all the bases. It makes for a deeply engaging listening experience – one that expands with more listening.
The bad news is, this disc is in limited supply. From the Preservation notes:
The Baroque Atrium is the third work in Preservation’s limited edition series Preservation called Circa for 2012. Only 300 copies of each release in the series will be available and will feature a design by Mark Gowing. Each design is realised using an abstract alphabet that creates an interlocking grid, determined by artist and volume number for something both fixed, random and unified across the entire series.