Review: Pan-American – “Kidnap!” b/w “Casino” (Reissue)

The typewriter appearing in “Kidnap!” is initially misleading but oddly apropos. The track, from an early Pan-American cassette recording re-released online this month, is old, but it’s not that old, am I right? (It appears to predate Pan-American’s self-titled debut, from 1998.)

What’s surprising about the too-short, two-song “re-release” – and what makes it worth checking out – is how antique, actually, it really sounds. I came of age with the alarmingly quiet, almost steely calm Pan-American of Quiet City, from 2004, and then, even just six or so (?) years after this recently unearthed material, he was light years ahead of this stuff. What’s also surprising is how organic it sounds. There are ambient and electronic flourishes, sure, but the Pan-American of this vintage is equal parts Mogwai and Oval – a recognizable guitar, in fact, dominates the landscape. (So does tape hiss, all too appropriate.)

“Kidnap!” is a droning surf number set to a creepy blues scale, complete with that typewriter front-man. The “B-side,” a composition called “Casino,” is more ethereal and the reverby guitar feels like it tilts a little toward David Lynch. These are two time-worthy little snippets, and they construct an interesting window into the Pan-American catalog. Ultimately, though, it might be targeting completists and ambient history buffs alone. So be it. – Justin Vellucci, Swordfish, July 26, 2019


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