It's little releases like this that make me happy there are so many small labels making music. After first hearing about Zum Media a couple years back when they released the Tired Snow EP by The Beans, the label has steadily been putting out solid and interesting albums by groups that most people probably haven't heard of. P:ano is the latest in that line of groups, and although many people probably won't hear about them, they really should. Moving along with a slow, but assured pace, the group sounds something like a cross between Low and Yo La Tengo, creating lush, slow and beautiful songs one moment and near-pop tracks the next.
Chances are, you'll probably be hooked upon hearing the first two tracks on the disc, as they're some of the best ones. "All Of November, Most Of October" starts out with some plucked acoustic guitar and understated vocals by Nick Krgovich. Soon, some violin and very subtle percussion ease into the mix, along with vocals by Lariss Loyva, creating a lovely harmony between the two. Toward the end of the track, some horns come in ever so slightly. "Tut Tut" follows with more two-part vocals over piano and more understated percussion, as elements like an accordian and bowed saw creep in before the finale.
"C'est Hi" drops off even slower, and moves along at an absolutely woozy pace, mixing warm keyboards with a twinkling of piano and more of those two part vocals, with Krgovich sliding into a nice falsetto. From there, the album picks up ever so slightly as "Be Flat" moves along with a steady pace and flourishes of singing saw and accordian again to accent the piano/drum crux of the track while "Worry" chugs along with a subtle electronic rhythm and more warm drones of keyboards and vocals. Like the rest of the tracks, the vocals are a nice combination of everyday observations (as if you're walking alongside the singer on a little walk about) or ruminations on relationships, but never really wander into pretentious territory.
The group seems to work their best when keeping tracks on the shorter side. Whereas the opening tracks of the album run just the right amount of time, the group loses their focus a bit on tracks like "Billions and Billions" and "Be Flat." It's not that either of those two tracks stretch into boring lengths, or even moments where the skip button seems like the better option, but the high points definitely come closer together when the tracks are kept a bit tighter. Fans of aforementioned Low or the softer moments by Yo La Tengo (especially the album And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out) will definitely find things to enjoy. An excellent debut album and a group to keep an eye on.