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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Pan American
Quiet City
Kranky Records

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Sleep came slowly; I thought it was death. That's the thing about these waves of sound that wash over my body. You're dead, but you think you're sleeping - or the other way around, it gets quite confusing. The best thing to do is just lie down and close your eyes and imagine that you're awake/alive even as consciousness bleeds. It's the best thing. Death came slowly; I thought it was sleep.

Pan American comes even slower, and Mark Nelson's fourth long-player under that guise is a somber and spaced out affair, but it feels good like sex or a warm shower or whiskey-fumes.

Live instrumentation is mixed with electronics here, as well as (gasp!) Nelson's live vocals. Hushed, subdued, and remarkable, this excursion into ambience drapes a warm blanket around your shoulders and rubs your back. "Smallholding," a highlight of the thankfully only 45-minute record (even ambience can be overdone), begins with hisses before a muffled procession of congas and bass tones are washed out by shimmering, high-pitched, velvet-tipped sound darts. The 1950's, channeled through David Lynch, oozes out of your speakers on "Christo en Pilsen," as more soft waves of ambience provide the bed for a guitar chord progression that shudders like doo-wop on codeine. The opening track, "Before," sounds like Tarentel circa 1999, as glacial-paced guitar notes ring out and eerie vocals exist just in your hearing range.

Pan American straddles the border between head-nod bedroom rock and actual song-smithing. Mark Nelson's vision is clear and there is always something to keep the music from boredom - a sine wave here, a flugelhorn there, an upright bass there. Quiet City is cinematic and evocative and sleepy and deliberate, all at the same time. Pan American came slowly. I thought it was death. It wasn't.

Reviewed by Jonah Flicker
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.

See other reviews by Jonah Flicker

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