Soft Terminal LP
Panabrite is the project of Norm Chambers -- not a household name to most people, but for those who have been reveling in his music for the last few years, he is absolutely adored. He is also, we should add, the man responsible for one of the most-loved synth albums of the last few years, although that's a journey he took incognito and we just aren't at liberty to divulge that identity quite yet. Some will be quick to chalk Soft Terminal up as just another Kosmische record, but that's just the surface dressing. There is something deeper happening here: vivid, liquid dreams are sculpted into intricate fantasy landscapes, each layer revealing another aspect of Chambers' production prowess. The thing with Chambers, is that he has an innate ability to write richly-textured, melodic compositions that have as much in common with vintage electronic library music as they do with minimal synth-pop and '70s prog. Soft Terminal opens with "Rainbow Sequence" and "Index Of Gestures." The former remains understated, moving simply and slowly while pulling open the curtain on the rest of the album. With "Index Of Gestures," Chambers opens up the sequencers and lets them fly. Dizzying passages resonate and when the piece finally feels like it will lift off, he tightens the reins and dives straight into an underwater sequence. But that's only a small part of the story. "Janus" opens with finger-picked guitar arrangements augmented with synth chords and rising leads. The guitars return on "Sound Softly" while Chambers' ghostly, robotic vocals float away unscathed. On "Beta Axis Terminal," pointillist tones flutter in and out before sharp, sequenced chord progressions overtake them. As the piece continues to build, vocoder hovers above thickened basslines and you feel lost in a dystopian sci-fi novel. But ultimately, Chambers' pop sensibilities are most evident on the mini-masterpiece, "Camembert Symphony." Pushed along by the constant thrum of a drum machine, multiple melodies are interwoven, wrapping themselves tightly around you. Each soaring synth glues the song deeper into your mind before fading away into the sonic ether. Cut to vinyl at Dubplates & Mastering
, Berlin. Limited to 500 copies only.