- Strong tracks by maturing producers on a top experimental label.
- In the past few years, Toxe and Crystallmess, the two producers featured on PAN's latest Split EP, have been in an extended phase of restless, try-anything experimentation. On Crystallmess's SoundCloud, the best place to hear her work, she's made shoegaze, dembow and a track called "Just because it's a funeral doesn't mean we can't rave," which sums up the contrasting moods of her music, whatever the style. Toxe, meanwhile, has meandered through a colourful range of experimental club-adjacent forms, but the bright synth tracks on 2018's Blinks, though short and first-drafty, reflected a closer research of the melodic mechanics of pop and trance.
Which is why the music on Split is such a surprise. There's a tightness and clarity that suggests both artists landed on strong ideas from the start and ran with them. You can still make out Toxe's signature on "Kiss Kiss" thanks to its cute vocal huffs, prodding against the rude, Mr Oizo-like bass synth. But "Maybe Tomorrow" is the unexpected gem. It's essentially an unlikely combination of Ellen Arkbro and AFX, as a languorous organ tone wafts through a Syro-tuned bassline. On the B-side, Crystallmess' "Fear Of A / Black Planet," another mutant techno-IDM bit, is a study in surveillance paranoia, its austere synth swoops and tweaking FX suggesting a drone scanning aimlessly amid concrete ruins. "Atalaku," which rivals "Maybe Tomorrow" as the EP's best track, casts solemn shadow over a strutting, horn-cracked batida rhythm. Split is a solid showing from two maturing producers.
A1 Toxe - Maybe Tomorrow
A2 Toxe - Kiss Kiss
B1 Crystallmess - Fear Of A / Black Planet
B2 Crystallmess - Atalaku