Release Date: Feb 24, 2009
Record label: Kranky
Genre(s): Electronic, Experimental
Kranky has had its share of unlikely successes-- from Godspeed You! Black Emperor to, more recently, Deerhunter-- but from the start the concept behind the label has been pretty consistent: They sign what they like. In fact, as recalled in a recent Pitchfork interview, label founders Bruce Adams and Joel Leoschke originally formed Kranky specifically to distribute their discovery Labradford, and the rest rolled out from there. Other bands have brought it more money or attention, but looking back to its roots, Kranky remains the record label that Labradford built.
On the back of White Bird Release‘s CD case, ex-Labradford guitarist and Pan-American maestro Mark Nelson writes the track listing in the form it was always meant to take, as an unbroken sentence-length quotation: “‘There can be no thought of finishing, for “aiming at the stars”—both literally and figuratively—is a problem to occupy generations, so that no matter how much progress one makes, there is always the thrill of just beginning.’—Dr. Robert Goddard in a letter to H.G. Wells, 1932.” Labradford pulled the same stunt on E Luxo So a decade earlier, where the names of the songs, read in order, were nothing so much as the album’s credits.
Guitarist Mark Nelson just keeps cranking out the solo projects, a testament to his passion if not his judgment. While such a high volume of output (this is at least his tenth release, in addition to his work with Labradford) makes some chaff inevitable -- read on, Ryan Adams -- White Bird Release is a solid, completely contained work. Nelson chose a small but broad idea and explored its depths fully.
Review Summary: Mark Nelson writes pretty songs.It would be easy to deride Pan American for writing the same album over and over. Of course, it wouldn't be entirely correct, but without listening closely it would appear that for Labradford guitarist Mark Nelson is treading water merely eleven years after Pan American's eponymous album. Nelson might be playing it safe, perhaps, but that isn't to say that he is stagnating.
Mark Nelson continues his exploration of minimalism through dub-tinged drones on his latest full-length under the Pan•American alias, White Bird Release. Nelson has a long history with minimalist electronic music: The very first release for Kranky Records in 1993 was by Nelson’s former group, Labradford. The idiosyncratic trio was incorporating analog synthesizers and exploring electronica at a time when the American indie-rock underground was obsessed with distorted discord.