Photo: Yannick Grandmont
Pseudo-legendary Montréal avant-rock band Fly Pan Am released three LPs and an EP in Constellation’s early years, celebrated for their unique collision of shoegaze maximalism, musique concrète, Minimalist repetition, guitar and electronic skronk, analog tape interventions, and audio sabotage. The group disbanded after an intense and prolific stretch of activity from 1999-2004, with each member going on to flex their creative muscles in a diverse and heady range of solo and group project. Reuniting in the studio well over a decade later, the four original co-founders rekindled many sparks.
Preceded by a couple of buzzy secret shows, new album C’est ça dropped in 2019: “so dense, hyper-focused, and determined that it forces itself to make sense, altering the listener’s perception of how music works…what a bizarre, absurd, wonderful album…easily Fly Pan Am’s best” (AllMusic); “[a] colourful thunderstorm of motorik bass grooves, restless rhythm changes, sparkling electronics, disruptive static fuzz, and the kind of dense & woozy guitar effects that Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine took whole decades of his life trying to perfect” (The Quietus); “the Montréal experimental/psychedelic quartet is in brilliant form after a 13 year break from recording” (The Vancouver Sun).
Fly Pan Am also composed and performed the live score for the modern dance piece Frontera in 2019. Featuring nine dancers from the iconic dance company Animals of Distinction and light-based scenography by United Visual Artists, Frontera is a stunning, visceral exploration of borders, barriers, isolation and determination – garnering accolades throughout its 2019 run of engagements at hometown premieres in Montréal and Québec City, CTM Festival in Berlin, PuSh Festival in Vancouver, and Sydney Festival in Australia.
The pandemic sadly scuttled Fly Pan Am’s first tour in 15 years (to have rolled out in UK and Europe in May/June 2020) along with Frontera‘s 2020 world tour schedule. But during lockdown the band has been trading files at a distance, including experiments with remixes of the Frontera live soundtrack recordings. Their Corona Borealis track “Mirror Cracks Seeking Interiority” is the first fruit of these efforts and a first for Fly Pan AM in terms of process: each chronological section of the track is a solo work by each individual member, remixed in isolation, then stitched together in mostly linear fashion. The result sounds fantastic and wholly Fly Pan Am – like no other band.
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