Sunset Review :: Pangaea – ‘Release’
November 22nd 2012
To confidently measure the dimensions of each idea in Pangaea’s Release is impossible; in fact the record as a whole is near-indecipherable. One could take the view that many of the album’s ideas bleed into multiple tracks, or warp into different forms over the course of the record, but there’s no way to be sure.
More than this though, it’s the way which these ideas are pieced together that truly gives Release its character. The way the vintage dubstep synth on ‘Majestic 12’ is completely at odds with the track’s percussion is a good example. The synth teeters along as if it were a hunched old man, leaning off-kilter as he makes his way along a London footpath late at night. A man who exudes confidence despite his frail frame and lurching gait. In complete ignorance of the brazen yet unstable nature of the synths, the track’s drums run amok. A hat-heavy tech house beat skitters along at the full 140bpm, not half time as is standard dubstep fare. Without the space and slow groove in the drums, the whole track has a strange feel to it and is a bit too much to handle.
It seems paradoxical for something to be out of time yet simultaneously irresistible to your feet, but perhaps that’s because those two elements appeal to different parts of the human mind. Our logical side wants to figure out where the beat is, and it becomes confused by the mish mash of music styles. Some subconscious thought process must have it all figured out though, because it’s all too easy to let yourself sink down into the shady vibes and move.
In similarly obscure circumstances, ‘Time Bomb’ presents a minimal, metronome-like woodwind sound that exists parallel to the percussive complexity of what seems to be a room full of drummers pounding away. The two elements don’t seem to be aware of each other’s existence, yet they fit together in an unexpected kind of way. Add this to the inclusion of ‘Game’ – UK garage number which would seem ominous if it weren’t for the ridiculous Missy Elliott sample slapped on top. Perhaps it’s a jibe at garage’s abuse of R&B and hip hop samples. Or maybe it’s just another unexpected tilt in an album that’s full of them.
Perhaps the greatest surprise of all is Release’s final track. ‘High’ takes away all issues of complex rhythms and grooves by removing percussion completely. It’s a piece of music that somehow manages to be distressing and soothing at the same time. While gentle waves of electronic silk crest and break in slow motion, a digital army approaches from the distance at unnatural breakneck speed. The army’s warped war cry unnervingly rips through the air, tearing apart the invisible barrier that keeps the asymmetrically–paced worlds apart.
As part-owner of independent UK imprint Hessle Audio, Pangaea is used to being surrounded by people who live on their path. Rather than follow the trends, these people extract what they need from today’s fashionable sound, use those elements in conjunction with previously-established sounds, and ultimately create entirely original ideas. It’s remix culture at its finest, and Pangaea leads the way for his labelmates and the world with utmost confidence here.