Release Date: Oct 24, 2011
Record label: Not Not Fun
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
It is generally acknowledged that the idea of using the recording studio as an instrument was pioneered in the 1960s by producers such as Phil Spector and George Martin, who used effects and modular recording techniques to reshape sound in an evocative reflection of a song’s themes. By the 1970s, studio techniques had solidified into a recognizable “sheen,” a clean-edged sound in which every instrument is heard to advantage, and an entire science of microphone placement and post-processing developed that gave professionally-produced recordings a distinct atmosphere simultaneously dynamic and airless. It’s much harder to pinpoint the pioneer of the patina, the term that most closely reflects this current era of production, in which producers works against themselves, emphasizing room tone and analog warble, using EQ and compression to squash sound, pushing songs into a fuzzy brick wall of partial unintelligibility.
Rangers' 2010 album Suburban Tours brought to mind alienated youthful evenings spent in identikit housing, so cut adrift from the world that the only place to escape was deep into your own head. Skip forward a year, and we have Pan Am Stories, an album title that's superficially linked to the process of escape, tied into a company that went bankrupt after misjudging the flux in demand to get away from it all. Rangers is a solo project conducted by the San Francisco-based Texas transplant Joe Knight, who put out a flurry of cassette-only releases on As Above So Below and his current label Not Not Fun toward the end of the last decade.
There’s a distinct sense of nostalgia permeating Rangers‘ new disc for Not Not Fun, Pan Am Stories. The title evokes the jet-setting glamor of the ’60s and ’70s, or maybe the sense of escape through the clouds, and the psych-inflected, lo-fi bedroom pop works in the same vein of Ducktails and Dirty Beaches. There’s something almost disco-tinged about what Joe Knight brings to the table as Rangers, a sound that fits the bucolic memory-leaning of the title.