Step Right Up: Panabrite
The ambient sounds of the Preservation label continue to enthrall audiences with the prolific Panabrite AKA Norm Chambers’ new release ‘The Baroque Atrium.’
Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry
Music is an endless process of discovery and the latest one for me has been in the shape of Panabrite. A spectrum of ambient, drone, prog and folk is beautifully mapped out by Seattle-based composer, Norm Chambers AKA Panabrite. A stream of releases has been delivered by Chambers in a short space of time. I believe it’s close to twenty releases in two years, which is the precise definition of prolific! The most recent album is entitled ‘The Baroque Atrium’, which was released on the ever-compelling Preservation label. Other Panabrite releases include ‘Illumination’ (Under The Spire), ‘Soft Terminal’ (DIGITALIS) and ‘Sub-Aquatic Meditation’ (Aguirre).
‘The Baroque Atrium’ was composed and produced by Norm Chambers in Spring 2012. Similar to Emeralds, Chambers’ Panabrite project consists of dream-like analog synth creations that guide you along on an interstellar journey. Panabrite is named after an idyllic, tranquil state of mind. After one listen to ‘The Baroque Atrium’, the listener is truly transported to this calming state of mind. Across the album’s seven tracks, Norman Chambers is placed firmly at the forefront of modern synth creating music.
The album opener ‘Humid Transmissions’ consists of swirling analog synthesizer that gradually rise and fall throughout. At just over two minutes, a world of ambient touchstones are met and surpassed. Sounds of singing birds (recalling William Basinski’s works) is layered beneath, making ‘Human Transmissions’ a richly sensual ambient soundscape. ‘Spetses’ adds vocoder to the mix. The track is perfect headphone listening, where found sounds of waves slowly crashing in and out flow beneath the haven of vocoder and delicate synth. The song’s backbone consists of building noise of drone. ‘Spetses’ is deeply immersive, echoing the likes of Tangerine Dream and Brian Eno.
‘Interfrequencies’ continues in the same moonlight path of transcendent ambient music. The magical realm of synth sounds recalls Emeralds last album ‘Does It Look Like I’m Here’ and could be a score to ‘Drive’ such is its drifting, late night feel. Sublime. My favourite is next with ‘Capraia’, which is the album’s centerpiece for me. Shimmering psych pop sounds are created. I can visualize a glowing sun shining on a beautiful blue ocean. Interestingly, an acoustic guitar is utilized here which adds embers of folk to the ambient surrounds. The slow strum of acoustic guitar echoes the ‘Chorals’ record by Mountains released several years ago on the Thrill Jockey label.
‘Departing’ begins with drone pulses, before lazer guided synths rise to the surface; magnificently drifting through the sound clouds. ‘Departing’ is a very appropriate title as it feels just that, although to where, is an unknown quantity. A sci-fi journey through one’s inner self. ‘Suite (For Winny and Roxy)’ is the longest track at over sixteen minutes in length. Five minutes in, gorgeous folk music of acoustic guitar melodies breathe heavily between the atmospheric synth sounds. A climax is reached, where a crescendo of meandering acoustic guitar floats downstream of the surrounding music of chirping birds. A moment of true wonder and beauty is captured here. Think Stars Of The Lid and Virginia Astley. The epic journey continues when at eight minutes, the synthesizer comes to the fore and gradually builds to a crescendo of ambient/prog elements.
‘Infinite Passage’ is the closer to ‘The Baroque Atrium’. A collage of drone and ambient music converge masterfully. One listen to ‘The Baroque Atrium’ and you will safely arrive at “an idyllic, tranquil state of mind.”
‘The Baroque Atrium’ is out now on Preservation.