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Album Review

Mark Nelson of Labradford fame has gone solo under the name Pan American. Splinters of whispers, chilly organs, faint hints of guitars, space-dub bass, and ratcheting electronic pings and blips recall early Aphex Twin, but the spacewalking sound is warmer, richer and more bewitching. Unlike Labradford, which at times can be a bit arch, Nelson brings things down to the point at which the music is an enveloping primordial ooze which lulls and pacifies. That's not to say it's boring; far from it. In fact, Nelson's adeptly structured sonic landscapes are lush, dense and intricate. Many of the tracks play on a similar theme, which makes them flow into one another with a calming seamlessness. In a further effort at sublime tranquillity, "Lake Supplies" utilizes a soothingly hypnotic hammer dulcimer for an additional mystic quality. Pan American is not something to put on when in search of a pick-me-up, but it makes for some of the best unwinding music around.

Customer Reviews

A unique album among a unique artist/band

Labradford are arguably pioneers in slow post-rock, and Mark Nelson's solo outing is unique among Pan American's growing discography for being the only album that shies away from "ambient" to create something more in-between. While minimal, slowly developing tracks are common among, well, the rest of Mark Nelson's Pan American output, this self-titled release has far more dub influence, with echo-y reverb percussion, ample space around the sounds used, and the feel of pushing for something "more" out of what used to be a different set of tracks. It feels more "Labradford meets dub" than the relatively "safe" follow up albums. Standout tracks are Starts Friday, Remapping, Lent, and Tract. As a cohesive album, it really stands up well.


Born: 1998

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A more beat-oriented solo project for guitarist/vocalist Mark Nelson of Labradford, Pan American debuted with a self-titled album on Chicago's Kranky Records in 1998. Nelson then recorded a track for the British experimental electronic label Fat Cat's Split series, and also played live with pedal steel genius B.J. Cole. His second Pan American LP, 360 Business/360 Bypass, appeared in early 2000 with collaborations from Chicago trumpeter Rob Mazurek and the members of Low. A series of split CDs followed,...
Full Bio
Pan-American, Pan American
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Customer Ratings