Panelak: The Om Tragichord


CDr LF Records

The last Panelak release I managed to get my clogged ears around was Heimat, from… ooh I dunno, last summer maybe? I was well into its mixture of rusty burps and fizzing electrical rhythms, so imagine my joy when another slice of clockwork madness, The Om Tragichord, materialised into my inbox a few short weeks ago.

The CDr version of this metallic chaos is out soon (or already?) on Bristol’s LF Records and I can’t recommend it highly enough to fans of proper insane robot noise. Pascal Ansell – the real-world appellation of the Panelak persona – piles up the layers of bleeping, clanking, shrieking junk, making a riotous cacophony that nevertheless always, somehow, retains a semblance of coherence to remind us of that there is some guiding consciousness behind the machinery.

These are noisy, exuberant pieces with a definite propulsive feel to them. Occasionally as on tracks like Hikikomori and Quisqualte, it feels like we’re listening to an intricately created set of loops, all set at different intervals yet all somehow interconnected like the wheels of some vast timepiece – although one whose timekeeping runs to crazed quantum laws rather than the steady onward progression of our everyday universe. Squelch and clank, squeal and blast. Hikikomori in particular is a brilliant track (and that’s without even mentioning the bizarre American talk show extracts that pepper its final stretch).

In Sarcomere, Ansell uses his ear for rhythms to more subdued ends, layering melancholic electronic chimes and bleeps with exhausted drum machine puffs and squiggles of nervy, caffeinated synths to create a sad robot vibe par excellence.

Elsewhere, there are actual real instruments – notably guitars and bass – contributing to the din his sonic armoury. There’s no danger of him turning into a sensitive soul strumming wistful ditties, though; the alienated strums and scrapes towards the end of Quisqualate make Jandek look like James Taylor in their passive aggressive ennui (and they’re all the better for it in my opinion).

The germ-ridden burps of distorted string mangling of BactoGrail, meanwhile, occasionally resemble coughed up free improv, anchored by one-note bass farts. They soon get drowned in torrent of sonic sewage anyway, an onrushing river of aural gunk that somehow achieves a whole load of metaphorical gravitas, a naked lunch vomited up after a heavy afternoon session.

Now it’s time for a lie down. Nurse, bring me my medicine.



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