Negligible Senescence by pandoRelease date: June 19, 2019
Label: Aesthetic Death
A quick Google search for ‘Pando Negligible Senescence’ won’t just make your spellcheck act up, it’ll also turn up some interesting material, some or all of which may (or may not) have something to do with this unique album, now given a loving physical release by Aesthetic Death. Pando are either a Massachusetts-based experimental duo or an 80-millennia-old colony of aspen in Utah, one which uses self-cloning to achieve a form of biological immortality (a.k.a. negligible senescence), essentially utilising eternal repetition to outlive all other lesser forms. Much like that colony, the other Pando wield repetition in a subtle but authoritative manner and while it’s unlike to take them into the 31st century, it makes for an intriguing listening experience.
This is an incredibly difficult album to pin down as it’s one of those creatures that constantly seems to be evolving before your ears, opening with tortured DSBM howls and sparse melodies before gradually folding in sunbleached Americana, creepily obtuse samples and the kind of forlorn ambiance that captures the scorching midday heat of the desert and its forbidding midnight chill, then hits you with both at the same time. When they focus on rhythm, the feeling is immediate and involving, dragging you down with effortless grooves, but that only makes up a fraction of the opening track. Follow-up ‘Runt’ takes a hazy blues backdrop and pairs it with scuzzed-up screeches à la Weedeater; ‘Mommy Eats’ is a twisted collision of sickly-sweet samples and portentous piano chords that drop like anvils to paint a weirdly Omen-esque scene; ‘The Suite Shuffle’ is lurching industrial claustrophobia and mental decay. This album doesn’t have character so much as it has musical dissociative identity disorder, an eclectic cast that bear some hallmarks in common but each contains its own nugget of self.
Much of Negligible Senescence’s appeal comes down to Adam Bryant and Matt Gagne’s approach to composition and art, utilising photography, sculpture, field recordings, found samples, snippets of overheard conversations and countless strains of metal to create the sound collages that are found here. While it does mean that a similar frame of mind is necessary to truly immerse yourself in these worlds, it also allows for the listener to drift in and out as they please, taking the scenic route through what is either a twisted psyche or else one of the darkest takes on American life since Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer. This is a psychedelic experience in the truest sense of the word, an ordered chaos of sound, texture and mood that shifts as it’s absorbed into the psyche.
Given the breadth of what Pando are capable of bringing to the table, it’s admirable that such order is largely maintained, with only ‘The Suite Shuffle’ really making the mistake of throwing everything into the mix to see what sticks. Rather, there’s a focus on utilising space and minimalist elements to flit between wonder and dread in the same way that a good Hammer Horror flick will pull you into the darkness using nothing but a well-timed chord or thunderclap. There is certainly musical aptitude abound, especially for a debut release, and if you’re wanting a unique album that will take you places you’ve never dreamed of, this is a more than worthy one to start with.