The six-minute instrumental is dense and difficult, rooted in classical structures and given more to jazzy interludes than anything approaching traditional pop or rock. Still, the band’s sense of melody retains a comfortable familiarity that gives adventurous listeners something substantial to hold onto. Yes, there’s a fairly wide expanse where the group experiments with silence and space over rhythm and texture, but it arrives only after a flurry of activity, like a reflective period of rest after an exhausting hike. Bottom line is that Faun and Pan Flute is a band comprised of musicians that are willing to challenge their limits and engage in ambitious risks. It doesn’t always play out smoothly or come together neatly, but the results are well worth the journey. – [ Premiere of “Dave” single ]
Lead track “Tandem Stye” is the catalyst for this newish (the EP was recorded in the spring and summer of 2012) assortment of spacey, beautiful, oddball explorations; it’s a splintered and elusive track, a sketchbook of seemingly incongruous thoughts that somehow coalesces into something grand, inventive and sublime. Everything else, whether it’s the sweeping art-pop gestures of “Grape,” or the atonal psyche-garage deliriums of “Down with the Crown,” or the angular post-punk lurch of the melancholy “Vacant Ring,” falls out that initial rush of sound like coins spilling out of a Vegas slot machine. And that’s really the sense you get from this record—of a band bursting with ideas and doing everything in their power to cram as many as they can, as elegantly as they can, into four-minute vessels of experimental sound. It’s an immensely impressive display of architectural songcraft where perhaps the greater miracle is that it doesn’t all fall apart at the seams.
According to his bio, Rod Hamdallah has been playing Atlanta bars and clubs since he was 16, which makes you wonder why it took him so long to come out with his debut EP. The five-song Think About It certainly sounds like something a seasoned veteran would deliver, it’s barreling garage-blues grooves and raucous energy tempered only by Hamdallah’s ability to craft soulful lo-fi hooks that would make Jack White proud. There’s plenty of power in his voice, but more so charisma, which lures you in and draw you smack into the whirlwind center of his dirty blues stomps and juke-joint rockers.
With each of it’s three tracks stretching well over over 10 minutes, Surface could easily have been a cluttered and disjointed affair, or, at worst, a plodding mess. Instead, the pacing is nearly perfect. “Side Effects of Living” paints in broad cinematic strokes, contrasting the brutal and the beautiful in a manner that resonates with an aura of bold, probing ambiance. It’s long, labyrinthine, cerebral music that sweeps you from one passage to the next, all the while radiating an unsettling energy that feels ominous and otherworldly. Guitarist Jacob Franklin is a revelation, shifting effortlessly between crushing doom metal, hypnotic post-rock, apocalyptic hardcore and about a half-dozen other genres from hard blues to experimental drones without distracting from the song’s core essence. Keyboardist William Henis interjects his electronics sparingly, but when he takes the lead such as in the soaring mid section, the band suddenly becomes the heaviest prog band on the planet.