Pan Gu - Primeval Man Born of the Cosmic Egg LP
On, the surface, this debut album from the collaborative duo of Norwegian noise artist Lasse Marhaug and The Observatory's Leslie Low, together known as Pan Gu, is dichotomous in really only one way. There are two distinct sounds to the songs on the record - one which is composed of soft, lush, ambient drones, while the other is built of chaotic noise and piercing feedback - but since those two opposing sounds continuously overlap, the dichotomy that really grabs hold and possesses me when I listen to this album is a bit less obvious, or if you will, more hidden. In fact, until one lets his or her self become personally involved in the music, that other dichotomy could be completely obscured by the first.
There's no doubt that the presence of those two very different sounds makes this a challenging release, and I suppose one could not be faulted for being put off by noise and feedback, even if that person were to accept and embrace the lighter side of the album - those two paths are indeed difficult, perhaps even impossible for some, to reconcile. Where I personally find a very strange dichotomy, though, is in where this record takes me; depending on when I listen, and seemingly a whole host of other factors, I am taken down two very divergent paths.
The first time I heard the record, I found it very relaxing. The deep drones and pervasively beautiful atmosphere that provides the record its backbone and foundation were in control, and I found this to be quite comforting. In fact, this was true of the first few times I listened to the record, and at that point, I would have been content to say that the harsher part of the record was dominated by the lush side, and end it at that. But that night I chose to listen to the record twice consecutively, and that's where everything changed. The second time I played the record that night, my psyche was taken captive by the noise and feedback, and dragged into a very alienated and indeed paranoid place. (I assure you no chemical substances, illicit or otherwise, were involved in this transformation.) Since that night, depending on the circumstances and mood around me, I find myself either greatly relaxed or highly unnerved when playing this record. It almost makes it uncomfortable to decide to put it on, as I have to to be able to determine which path I'll be taken down. But I can't help but appreciate the project of analyzing myself and a record so closely. At some point, I'll just give in and go with it, but for now, it's an interesting adventure.
While I can't say that this will be exactly the case for each individual listener, I can with confidence say that if you let yourself be moved by the album, you'll probably find something interesting that you didn't know was there before. Put the music together with the amazing cover art by Denis Forkas Kostromitin, and I think you'll agree there is something very special at work here.
The album will be streaming (presumably from Utech's Bandcamp page) during the first week of March, but for now, you can check out one track ("Silver Needle, Silver Dragon") below, which I think is a good primer for the rest of the album.
Do with that what you will, but keep the record in mind as its release draws near - it will be available from our friends at Utech Records sometime in March.