Review: Fly Pan Am – C’est Ca

We all know that seminal post-rock pioneers Godspeed You! Black Emperor are one of the most revered bands of all time, but even listeners who claim to be die hard fans sometimes fail to dive into the wide array of offshoots, collaborations and solo projects that the Canadian ensemble have amassed. Not surprising, as it can feel like tumbling down the rabbit hole into some kind of Marvel extended universe, except with a much better soundtrack! Some of the most notable GY!BE offshoots include A Silver Mt Zion (their first two albums are just as essential as anything Godspeed have released), Set Fire To Flames, Big|Brave and of course Fly Pan Am, a project that has been spearheaded by Roger Tellier-Craig, originally forming not long after Godspeed first emerged.

Fly Pan Am could be considered to be the wildest and most immediate of the bunch. Yes, these descriptors can certainly be true of Godspeed, but they usually take a while to get there; Fly Pan Am tend to get things going immediately and have songs that are relatively short, exploring influences of Krautrock, glitch music and the punkier side of post-rock. For a long time, Fly Pan Am’s well regarded 2004 album N’ecoutez Pas looked like it would be their final release, but lo and behold, Tellier-Craig continued Fly Pan Am in 2017, leading to this worthy successor album, C’est Ca.

From the moment you press play, that familiar immediacy hits you like a brick to the face, with insane glitchy electronics reminiscent of Matmos or Oneohtrix Point Never, complete with abstract, shuffling drums, before breaking into the more controlled groove of ‘Distance Dealer’. Though more linear compositionally, the track is still spattered with abrasive bursts of noise and feedback. The album has a strange flow, with erratic splicings of different genres breaking in and out almost randomly. Yet even in this erratic chaos sits wonderful pieces like ‘Dizzy Delusions’, a dreamy pitch-shifted synth interlude reminiscent of Tim Hecker. This bursts into the hyperactive highlight ‘Each Ether’, recalling My Bloody Valentine‘s noisier and more abrasive cuts like ‘You Made Me Realise’. How this then leads into the industrial drone of ‘Alienage Syntropy’ and then the manic shape shifting dirge of ‘One Hit Wonder’ is anyone’s guess.

C’est Ca is quite frankly a rather tone deaf album that has no clear structure or ebb and flow. For every track that is a wild burst of energy and noise, there follows a forced drone-paced comedown that stops the momentum in its tracks. There are so many interesting, and occasionally exciting elements that build up this record – and it sure is a striking and fun listen – but the overall experience and lasting impression is hindered by a real lack of solid ideas, finalised structures and cohesive flow. The album plays more like a band messing about with some new gear in their rehearsal room, and the will to make weird and experimental sounds feels at odds with the all too brief moments of clarity.

C’est Ca is released September 20th through Constellation Records and can be purchased here.

Words: Chris “Frenchie” French

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