The Panda Resistance
The Panda Resistance
The Panda Resistance's self-titled debut EP is an EP in name only. The seven-track disc approaches proper album status as it flourishes for more than 40 minutes, crammed airtight with melody, rhythm and texture.
The trio of musicians is obviously well versed in their craft from even a casual listen. The super-imposition of jazz, funk and minimalism over a canvas of instrumental indie rock is both tasteful and well calculated. On the album, homage is paid to a diverse cast of unusual suspects such as Philip Glass, Tortoise and Mogwai, while retaining the sense of identity that the band has accumulated in their short time together.
The largely instrumental collection of music seems to be exercises in musical ideas; dreamscapes painted under varying emotional influences that pivot and shift in unexpected ways. The material teeters back and forth between dreamy and dark, between furious and gentle, from the melodic to the abstract--often in the same song.
The compositions begin to feel like their own little journeys, starting with one concrete musical or melodic theme and ending much farther down the road.
The opening track "An Honorable Death" starts out mysteriously with a foreshadowing bass and sweeps of effected guitars clearing the palette for the sequences to come. But the song quickly develops a melodic theme and builds upon it a climax in a gentle guitar/bass/drum fury that has become a trademark of the band.
The song "Gopher the Golden" is largely wound around a memorable waltz melody lead by a xylophone. But just as the rhythm settles, the meter of the song switches to a more forward figure and the entire sensation of the song morphs with it into something more driven and upbeat. The band revisits both themes back and forth leading the listener by their ear unaware of how the seven plus minute track will finally resolve.
These song descriptions might read rather heady or stuffy but really the sound of the band is often fun, too. There is such an intense interplay and tangible enthusiasm between the trio's playing that on a track like "lemonade all by myself," which is both revelatory and moving, one can easily get lost in the backbeat of the drums or the leading melody of the song, or on the track "Ebenezer" that starts out with a simple marimba figure before the rhythm section settles into a playful groove that carries the entire track and launches the guitar off into synthesizer sounding territory.
Fans of the band that have been following The Panda Resistance's live show will be surprised to find the inclusion of some vocal tracks on the album. Although the contributions are rarely lyrical, except for the namesake of "lemonade all by myself" appearing in the track itself, they provide an additional dimension to the material that no other instrument could.
The band has yet to add the vocal parts to their live performance, so the album is really both a landmark for where they are and where they are going, while providing testament to the fact that they continue to be a band to follow.
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