Boomkat Product Review:
Penultimate Press go back to church with Pancrace’s Music for pipe organ, Bird Calls, Baroque Violin, Tin Whistle, Boîtes à Bourdons, Landscape Piano, Motorised Bow, Standuino Pi Synth, Microphones, Hurgy Toys, AM radio, Church Bells, Uilleann Pipes and Hulusi...following the label’s vinyl releases of Áine O’Dwyer’s amazing Locusts and Gegenschein recordings.
Whilst there are obvious similarities to be drawn between Áine’s LPs and this one, Pancrace have many more hands and instruments on board - Prune Bécheau, Arden Day, Julien Desailly, Léo Maurel and Jan Vysocky accompanying the organ with baroque violin, tin whistle, boîtes à bourdons, landscape piano, motorised bow, Standuino Pi synth, mics, hurgy toys, AM radio, church bells, uilleann pipes, and hulsi - and the results are therefore more elaborate, diversified, although also wonderfully spectral and psychedelic in nature.
Both the act and their debut recording borrow their name from the church in Dangolsheim, just outside Strasbourg, France, where the organ is located (that’s its name on a stain glass windows on the cover), and where the instrument inventor and group-member Léo Maurel is also based. As much as O’Dwyer’s LP, the space and place are integral to the recording. But where Áine’s side was defined by a sense of ghostly detachment, this one feels like a play or mass for ancient spirits, who dance and weave an inimitable array of tones around the central cyclopean figure of the organ to resemble some kind of arcane ritual or communion, rather than meditative loneliness.
In keeping with the arcane atmosphere, the session is prone to unpredictable, epiphanic peaks or collapsing drop outs, vacillating its flux of energies within a truly cryptic narrative logic, or as the label poetically put it; “a maelstrom of sound and song which see-saw between he harrowing and the sublime with incredible detail to sonic content”.
And that 2nd part of that statement is also key to the compelling appeal and uncanny ingenuity of Pancrace, as the group’s instrumental dialogue appears to divine, with a real clarity, a range of unique tonal definitions which add up to a sum much greater than their already fascinating individual parts, especially when combined with the incidental rustles and sounds of children and birds outside.
We’re feeling pretty dazed and disoriented after ingesting this one - just as any experience involving a church is supposed to impress, we guess - and recommend it to anyone who knows what we’re talking about there.