FILE UNDER: EXPERIMENTAL, NOVOCAIN DRIP
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It's one thing to experience the ambience of the underworld during a David Lynch film like Eraserhead, but it's quite another to take on the dark side without even a visual aid, and Pan American likes to make sure their audience is going in blind. In the '90s, the band Labradford won critical praise for a series of effects-heavy, hypnotic albums; Pan American is Labradford guitarist Mark Nelson's side project, and Quiet City stands as this side project's fourth and strongest full-length to date—it's a cruel and malevolent album. The precise guitar work and gentle drone, like that on "Lights of Little Towns," might seem simply melancholy, a reflection of longing like fusty old "Moon River." Yet this almost organic album is very particular when revealing its electronic seams: the muzzled clicking of a tape loop, a stutter and then silence, some feedback, and some gentle synthesizers, the last the electronic elements that betray City's more sinister and icy tone. Conventional instrumentation disintegrates into a more dystopian electronic sound, an IDM nightmare that seeps through the walls like the Blob. Just as in suburbia, the banal masks the black market. Nelson's got his sights set on the severed ear poking out of the grass in this Quiet City.