Fly Pan Am have been one of those groups who seemingly enjoy to confound. On their first Self-Titled release, they had a track that held a sustained (for nearly 10 minutes) two note interval that pushed repetition to the extreme reaches of things, only slightly changing the subtle static that flowed along with the track. The five tracks on their first disc in fact, nearly all took repetition to the extreme, and if you weren't turned off by them, you were hypnotized. On their second release, a shorter, Sedatif En Frequences Et Sillions EP, they distilled things down to two shorter tracks, and it worked for the better.
Now, the group is back, and as if to warn me even before listening, the band warns of self-sabotage as a theme. They warn that the listener may think their CD player is broken or the vinyl is defective. Alas, dear friends, such is the way that things are in the world of Fly Pan Am. They've gone from lulling the listener with repetition on their first disc to keeping one on edge with accident and sometimes jarring error in this newest release.
While the repetition is still there, the groups sound has veered off into all new directions. Partially instigated by their experimenting with different sounds during live performances over the past couple of years, the quartet has moved away from long passages of shimmering guitars soaked with reverb and into more of a jangling, rough-edged stutter funk. After opening the disc with the short, mechanical noises of "Jeunesse Sonique Tu Dors (En Cage)," the disc launches into the almost 11-minute "Rompre L'Indifference De L'Inexitable Avant Que L'On Vienne Rompre Le Sommeil De L'Inanime." It's a damn long title, to be sure, but it fits the shuddering track nicely. Starting out entirely in rolicking rhythm mode, squeaks and bursts of tape hiss and noise threaten to overwhelm things as the track morphs into something new before cracking off into yet another new passage of lolling guitars and slow burn rhythm before layers of malfunctioning noise coat everything over.
It's on "Partially Sabotaged Distraction Partiellement Sabotee" that the theme of self-sabotage really makes itself known. Whereas on previous tracks, there seemed to almost be patterns to the madness within the cutting static and noise, "...Sabotee" is a wickedly progressing rock track that simply cuts out like the CD player is having serious issues. Yes, it distracts from the sublime groove, but that's their point. In effect it's alternately annoying and grounding. After another track of grinding machine noise, the album closes out on an awesome 1-2-3 punch. "Sound-Support Noises Reaching Out To You" again finds the group working a great, no-wave groove while subtle surface skip noises (which work much better than the simple sound-cut method employed on the aforementioned track) threaten to overtake and finally do.
"Erreur, Errance; Interdits De Par Leurs Nouvelles Possibilities" rumbles and gurgles along with soupy low-end and repetitive guitars and noise, while "La Vie Se Doit D'Etre Vecue Ou Commencons A Vivre" closes out the disc with another rumbling, repetitve track that finds the group locking into an absolutely stunning groove with only about 1 minute of the release left to go. It's that last minute of the disc that is more frustrating than any of the sabotage elements that come before it, simply because the amazing sounds the group create end too quickly when the disc close (it's one of those near-perfect stunners that could have continued for 5 more minutes and I would have been happy). At any rate, most people will probably find their patience tried with this release, yet the more and more I listen to it, I find that the group has created something downright hypnotic at times (so much in fact, that the attempts to distract are simply glazed over). In destroying their old sound (and other genres), they've come up with something new and exciting.