After hearing Godspeed You Black Emperor, Do Make Say Think, and A Silver Mt. Zion, I had to delve even further into the catalogue of the label that had already brought me such fine fair. Poised to become my favorite label, with their combination of beautiful music and awesome packaging, Fly Pan Am became my next choice to hear, as it contained members of Godspeed and I'd read some great things about the group.
One of the first things that you should know about the group is that they're not concerned short songs whatsoever. In the course of only 5 tracks, the group billows and shimmers their album to over 60 minutess worth of lock-groove, marching beats and beautiful stretches of noise, drone, and static-touched tape manipulation. They do employ a few tricks (which I talk about below) that will either really annoy you, or may put you off slightly, depending on your degree of handling such things.
Because the track titles are in French (and quite long), I'm only going to write down the first few words of each, lest this becomes a bi-lingual review that many people won't understand (myself included). Anyway, the first track "L'espance au sol est..." clocks in at about 13 and a half minutes and starts out with a slight hum of feedback before a repeating guitar progression finds its way into the mix slowly and steadily. Eventually, the drums start their relentless pace. The track builds and builds, like it's struggling up a hill, until finally it reaches the peak and explodes in a shimmering haze of layered guitar over that same rhythm. The second track "Et aussi l'eclairage..." starts out with some of the same tripped-out Morricone-esque guitar before it shards off and the track gets more jagged with a plodding bassline and attacking guitar stabs. Eventually, the whole track breaks off into static and drifts until guitars pick up again with two minutes left and finish it out.
The centerpiece of the album is the almost 18 minute long "Dans ses cheveux..." which literally goes into a sustained half-tone interval for over half the track in which the only thing that changes is the crackle of subtle static that winds through it. It's metronomic and very, very repetitive, but also slightly hypnotic. It also may really annoy you. On the fourth track ("Avec alexandre st-onge..."), things start out with almost 2 minutes of silence before the group again revives one of their amazing swells of guitar noise. Just when you think it's about to really take off, it cuts off, leaving you with silence again for awhile before things slowly come back into focus even different than they were before. On the final track, they make use of some nice, ethereal vocals that accent the rather dark, dirging track amazingly.
While it's not as immediately accessible as Godspeed or as focused as Do Make Say Think, it's still a very great release from the label. Some of the sonic manipulations and repetition may turn off some, but the amazing textures and songs more than make up for it even if that's the case. Fans of droning music will definitely want it on their list, as well as those who simply want to keep up with the ever-growing catalogue of solid releases from Constellation. Not only that, but it (like all of the other Constellation releases) will only run you 10 dollars postage-paid.