Review: Pan American – For Waiting, For Chasing

This was actually first put out on limited release in 2006. Credit to Kranky for picking it up again and pushing it to a wider audience – too much care and attention appears to have gone into the fantastic For Waiting, For Chasing for it to reside as a forgotten rarity.

The sound of the album is like taking the heaving sonic landscapes conjured within some of Tim Hecker’s compositions, and ridding them of life in some sort of apocalyptic wipeout – the make-up of these compositions may be careful and complex, but the end result feels surprisingly sparse and low-key. Each track generally revolves around a central, droning stream of pad chords, in which all of the staccato electronic debris can be dragged in a singular direction. It’s a busy album, with each element in constant babbling communication, but something about the overall mood feels rather washed out and vacated.

Repeated listens begin to unearth the variation in texture throughout For Waiting, For Chasing. Abrasive crumbling blocks of sound often taking the foreground, lurching and heaving in arrhythmic scrapes of static, whilst the softer, more fluid elements shift quietly between shapes as unnoticed background figures. Occasionally some of the layers appear to fall into seemingly accidental sync, even if only for a split second, before slipping away from each other again. Nelson is very capable in the manipulation of space and crafting the illusion of a very three-dimensional depth, but also proves himself as a master at placing a very complimentary and co-dependent array of sound objects within it.

“Amulls” is the album closer, and undoubtedly the most immediate offering from the album. Soft piano keys etch in a melody that delicately cycles and drags the piece into a state of rare and temporary unity before it breaks down, with a lingering instrument decay taking For Waiting, For Chasing into a natural and gradual album fade out. It’s a quietly spoken release on the whole, and resists the temptation to give way to a “grand”, cop-out crescendo of strings or other more homely instrument choices (I’m even in two minds about the use of piano in this final track), but it’s fantastic to see such a subtle and understated work receive the exposure it deserves, instead of being a treat reserved for those who snapped up the initial limited pressing.