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Panda Bear - Person Pitch

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Artist: Panda Bear

Album: Person Pitch

Label: Paw Tracks

Review date: Mar. 20, 2007

In his recent conversation with Dusted's own Rob Hatch-Miller, Noah Lennox (a.k.a. Panda Bear) broke down his new album as "96 percent samples, 10 percent of which I actually played." That said, the material Lennox has plundered for Person Pitch has been doused in so much FX that they’re rendered translucent. A lengthy list typed on the sleeve identifies possible sources as diverse as Hall & Oates, Luomo, Spacemen 3 and Gang Starr. Their original hues faded or scratched off, they've become ghostly forms billowing in Lennox's desktop panoramas.

While his last solo mission, 2004's Young Prayer, is a short suite of baroque jots and freehand scribbles, lacking in titles and largely wordless – an immediate mould of malformed ache – this new disc feels slowly and carefully assembled. It bears seven compositions, two of which clock in at over 12 sublime minutes. Lennox often relies on the same longform, time-release abstraction of his Jane side-project, only this time they’re disciplined by pop structures (however disintegrated they may be).

The entire album has the tinny, squished-silver spectrum of an MP3, which only adds character to its faint shadows of songs: layers upon layers of laced harmonies and tangential melodies. The gray rainbow has never sounded better. Opener "Comfy in Nautica" sets the vaporous scene. Handclaps bounce off marble walls as Lennox's reverb-drenched lead dissolves into tinny gushes of a gleeful children's choir. Gears grind, racecars screech and rayguns blast. Throughout, Lennox plays his own Foley artist, throwing found clips of hooting owls and bubbling water on top of his cold, shimmering carpet of foggy pixels. Something like the chug of a printing press sends "Take Pills" reeling, while the entrancing "Bros" benefits from a host of non-musical interjections. Starting with a twinkling cluster of guitar notes and chiming metallic clinks, it morphs into a jangly thump with fractals of Lennox flickering at random.

Throughout the disc, Lennox plays with his voice, pitch-shifting it into slightly odd Knife-ish registers or mounting angelic climbs akin to, yes, Brian Wilson. On "Im Not," he's damn near Gregorian. But after "Good Girl" jars with its frantic tabla loop, it fades into "Carrots" and the unspooled splendor of some beardo Beach Boys trip-hop. Hard drives chatter as a liquid melody seeps through "Search for Delicious,” the most all-out ambient of these album's spacey gems, Lennox commenting sporadically in knob-twisted squiggles and warps. Though he told Hatch-Miller he's written songs like "Ponytail" "100,000 times in different forms,” that doesn't preclude it from being a lovely kiss before bedtime after the album’s earlier hustle and bustle. In a year that will feature not just a new long-player from Lennox's Animal Collective but also a box set's worth of rare material, it may be hard to surpass the haunting, blissful pageantry of Person Pitch.

By Bernardo Rondeau

Other Reviews of Panda Bear

Young Prayer

I'm Not / Comfy In Nautica


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View all articles by Bernardo Rondeau

Find out more about Paw Tracks

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