Panicsville - Electroacoustic Underground [Nihilist - 2020]
Experimental stalwart Andy Ortmann's Panicsville project should be very familiar to M[m] readers. Never traditional, Panicsville has the ability to change at will, and this is evidenced on Electroacoustic Underground. As the title suggests, this album is heavily rooted in electroacoustic composition, and uses its time and space wisely. Well assembled, the pieces here construct a wonderfully intriguing whole, connecting unlikely sections through vibe alone.
Two songs split over 13 pieces, Electro Acousticunderground takes two different approaches with "Absurdus Maximus" and "A Camel Is A Horse Designed By A Committee." The former takes on the mantle of deep curiosity and soulful exploration, and the latter explores the odder side of sound synthesis. "Absurdus" and its more laid back approach help to build distant tension like an avant-garde thriller. This is topped off with the very surprising fifth part and it's full on band performance. Heavy and doomy, this gem doesn't match its surroundings, but sticks out at such an admirable angle that it makes perfect sense on the album. The album's second side hits more toward Ortmann's outre style (were the titles switched on these? haha). Like the first side, this one is built around empty space and uses that as the medium for sounds to be produced, as well as to juxtapose the louder, more experimental sounds. More amped up than the first side, "Camel" fills in the blanks and runs with it. Maybe a tad overly expressive, the second half still brings about a mysterious air, and this leitmotiv allows the listener the time to compare the highs and lows of each movement.
Originally released in 2020, Electroacoustic Underground has been re-released on vinyl after its original, sell outrun. Giving the listener a lot of space to run around in, this album feels like Ortmann hitting his best notes and using the pieces & critiques of each movement to further the album's goal. Oftentimes strange (in a good way), but always moving in the right direction, Electroacoustic Underground is an engaging work showcasing Andy Ortmann's composition and arrangement.Paul Casey