For Waiting, For Chasing, the fifth full length release from Pan American, was started back in 2004 (right about the time that the excellent Quiet City was released), and is largely inspired by real life events. Two years ago, Mark Nelson's partner was pregnant with their first son. During trips to the doctor, Nelson made recordings from the obstetrician's microphone as it moved around and captured the sounds of the baby in the womb. Those recordings show up in every track on the release, and fit into the album of submersed sound just about perfectly.
Even though his previous album hinted at even softer output, this newest release is easily his most subdued and weightless to date. It's no an album that you can listen to in a distracting environment, as most of the pieces have such subtle and soft movements that it's easy for things to go unnoticed. Opening a graceful arc that peaks about midway through the release, "Love Song" opens the disc with looped bits of clicky static and hiss that are joined by breathy, processed horns and quiet, but lurking percussion that finally comes to the foreground towards the end of the track.
Largely missing are the dub influenced rhythms that Nelson has made much use of in the past (although some bare bones beats crop up in places), replaced by more organic instrumentation contributed by friends Steven Hess (percussion including Tibetan singing bowls, triangles, and doumbek) and David Max Crawford (flugelhorn). "Are You Ready" finds more filtered electronic noises crawling across quietly shifting layers of ambient drone while gurgling percussion rumbles deep below it.
As mentioned above, the album seems to peak about halfway through with "Still Swimming," where some deep, arrhythmic beats thump through the haze. On the other side of things, "Amulls" ends the release with ten minutes of barely-there melody, clicks, and electronic squibs that are so faint you could likely play them for a newborn and not have any crying afterwards. Although it's by no means his strongest work under the Pan American name, For Waiting, For Chasing may very well be one of the best aural documents of floating in amniotic fluid that you're likely to find. Best heard on headphones.