Somnambule - Writing About Music

Pan/tone ~ Newfound Urban Calm + Remix

Given the image of massed riot police on the cover, the album title is best taken with a pinch of salt, just as seventh track Urban Calm is anything but tranquil. Pan/tone is Canadian Sheldon Sidney LeRock, a name that might have been perfectly appropriate for a career in hiphop. Pan/tone’s output, however, is located squarely in techno, a genre disposed to more technical aliases. Newfound Urban Calm is a double cd offering up twelve original compositions on its first disc alongside ten remixes on the second.

Sans Adore proceeds at a brisk pace, bearing its carefully honed baggage like a steadily advancing mechanical wave. A buzzing whirr snakes around in the middle distance refusing to be pinned down by clipped beats that pierce the foreground like so many regimented arrows. As with its minimal techno siblings, it’s the tiny exceptions to the rhythmic rule that raise the temperature, pique the interest. Foreground embellishments occur against a busy backdrop and if the ear’s distracted by a certain element for too long, there’s the potential – not always fulfilled – that everything else will have subtly changed in the meantime. Returning to the music as a whole, the listener’s challenged to recall what the changes consist of. Thus the music, always passing, never pausing, becomes an exercise in memory. What happened? Did anything happen? Can you recall the beginning of the journey seven minutes ago? If you rewind, what memory will remain of the passage you left behind?

Techno’s a catholic network of affiliations, beginning in disputed territories such as Kraftwerk and Cybotron – Dusseldorf and Detroit, not forgetting the dub minimalism of Berlin’s Chain Reaction, the jazz tinges of Kirk DeGiorgio, the glitch sophistication of Farben and on and on. There are hints of many of these on Newfound Urban Calm with the castanet-clicks of No Pecas Por Favor, the cumulative hypnotism of Nil Lights, the piledriver shuffle of Unexplained Stains and the Beltram stabs of Radio Dispatch. Pan/tone ably supplies the necessary motive force for the dancefloor, conjuring images of a bassbound subfloor mechanism pulsing irresistably and remorselessly on. The only reservations are that a little more subtlety would be welcome and a more discerning take on the textures. After 75 minutes and twelve tracks, a breather is recommended before attempting the second cd of remixes which cast an interesting and varied light on the originals.
Colin Buttimer
February 2005
Published by milkfactory