The concept for this CD (and believe me, it’s conceptual) goes like this: Wendyhouse’s two band member/collaborators, Mr Pudding and EE Monk, based on opposite sides of the world, contributed a channel each to the album. Neither had heard the others’ contribution, and only the track length and title were predetermined. The two channels (left and right, hence the title) were then combined to create each track on the album. The CD also comes complete with two sets of cover art, one from each member.
It all sounds suspiciously like sound art – a similarly devised piece was included in the Nat Rad/Physics Room curated ‘Audible’ art show last year – but does it work as music?
Predictably, the answer is ‘yes and no’. While it won’t hold much appeal for the average More FM listener, the album in fact sounds surprisingly cohesive. The fact that on most tracks only one channel contains vocals helps rein in the chaos, as do the short track lengths, and Messrs Monk and Pudding’s long history of collaboration.
The sound ranges from messy and dense to spooky and disorienting. On two tracks in particular, the juxtaposition is really effective. ‘One Bored In Heaven, Two Bored In Hell’ features fuzzy casiotone newromantic melancholy in one speaker, heavenly harp’n’choir in the other, while the fifteen minute closer ‘Skull and Crossphones’ is an expansive slice of folktronica.
In the end, ‘Pan’ sounds like it can’t decide if it’s a work of conceptual art or a seriously warped rock album, and maybe that’s the (deliberate) underlying duality of the whole thing? As far as experiments go, it’s a success.
(for The package)