- In 2007, Pan-Pot hooked me with two records: What is What featured a pair of epic tracks that displayed a remarkable combination of restraint and ambition while cementing a uniquely dark vision for stripped-down techno. After hearing "What is the question, what is the answer?" whispered in the dark from a rumbling bass bin, I became convinced that Pan-Pot and Mobilee were blazing a bold new direction within the confines of a particular genre. And then came "Charly," a gutsy arrangement that moved the vocals to center-stage and felt like a classic piece of songwriting. Two years later, Pan-Pot's clattering hiss and jittery low-end have become easily recognizable landmarks among the often sterile field of techno, and their latest record is yet another brick in the tower.
Where do you go after sneaky whispers and stoned poetry? On the title track of Confronted, Pan-Pot arrive at a semi-vocoded female voice that complains about being sent to her room while worrying about a missing redhead who "walks with bunnies hopping at her side." At this point the high-hats crash into a climax that doesn't feel fully earned, given the inane vocals. (An aside: I might be more forgiving if she were speaking German or Finnish or some other language that I do not understand; the voice-as-instrument versus vocals-as-content argument has always been difficult to unpack, e.g., I think Ester Brinkmann's "Maschine" sounds brilliant, whereas many Germans find it a bit hokey). As for the actual music, the streamlined beat gallops at a good clip, the synthesizer is urgent and unsettling, and the hi-hats are shaken into a proper froth. All of Pan-Pot's signature elements are here, yet the emotional pay-off is missing. Perhaps I've heard this song too many times over the past two years. Maybe I'm disappointed by the promise of a confrontation that never arrives.
On the flip, "Face to Face" delivers more of the same nervous energy, with a distant radio transmission that serves as an effective counterpoint to the very present drums. As is quickly becoming standard practice, Confronted comes bundled with two digital releases: "Diamond Head" ends with a rush of full-tilt hi-hats and raw bass that conjures "Phylyps"-era Basic Channel although the effect is somewhat diminished after five minutes of stuttering atmospherics, and "The Birds" sprays several chirping lasers across a typical Pan-Pot groove. It's the typical part that's troubling about this release. If you don't own many of their records, Confronted isn't a bad place to start. If you already have a few of their songs, however, you might wonder if you need any more of them.
B Face To Face
Digital Exclusive: Diamond Head
Digital Exclusive: The Birds