I’m constantly impressed that music you stumbled upon can relate to your own life’s trajectory – both in song title and delivery of music. I guess we allow it to? Do you search for metaphors and insight in everything? I sometimes think I do it inadvertently.
This track from Pan•American, “Both Ends Fixed,” is a like musical poetry. Someone summed it up on YouTube perfectly: “It makes me want to melt into a warm, orange colored vapor that sounds like sleep and smells like rain.” How beautiful is that description? I can’t compete but I’ll try: I’m thinking about sitting inside of an Ethiopian restaurant listening to improvisational jazz musicians, older dudes wearing dark hats in the wintertime jamming out on trumpets. I believe we all have our own memories that we somehow attach to music. What’s this song doing for you?
Pan•American is an ambient/post-rock ensemble, also known as the alter ego of Mark Nelson, member of Labradford and all around cool guy. Pan•American debuted back in ’98 and then came out with an album once every two to three years, with the last release being White Bird Release on Kranky a few years back in ’09. It started up as Mark’s attempt to explore sampling and the powers of “dub,” i.e. resonant bass drones, hushed vocals, jazz-y noises, obscure yet delicate motifs that all stick together to bobble on the surface like a ducky in a bathtub. I’m bummed there hasn’t been a new release but revel in listening to his fantastic discography.
I’ve been addicted to this track for a few years now, and I promise that every track like it delivers whatever you seek. In fact, I keep hitting repeat over and over again right now to try and understand where Mark’s head was going when he composed the piece. I’m thinking of things like foresight – did he have any or did he simply just jam out and let his emotions go in order to understand his music making process?
Focus in on that trumpet, it’s wailing and moving just like your mind does sometimes. It’s all over the place, it’s beautiful yet dark somehow, it’s a living system – it lurks in your mind long after the track ends. It’s like Camille Landau said, “The audience walks into a theater sits down, and, as the lights go down, opens their wounds. They have not come to experience your pain. They have come to relive their own experience, in the quiet hope of either recovering its sensations or relieving themselves of its burdens.”
Open your wounds to Mark Nelson. Listen close and figure out what it’s really saying to you, that audience that you play to every night as your lights go down, when you close your eyes and attempt to relive your own experiences through the power of dreams and fiction.