Pan Daijing Lack 惊蛰

[PAN; 2017]

Styles: atomism, unformed noise logic
Others: Félicia Atkinson, Lotic, Pharmakon

The culture of noise music is a strangely static entity considering the ambiguity of what noise truly means. Often represented in blacks and whites, either violent obliteration or soothing ambience, the concept of an overpowering and all-absorbing noise ignores how sound actually slithers into our perception of the surrounding world. Silence can be deafening, and as immersive as it can be to drown oneself in a vat of shrieking frequencies and tonal dysphoria, it’s these exact types of single-rule environments that allow one to settle in, to become comfortable amidst their chosen position.

Lack 惊蛰 does not allow for this sort of complacency. Constantly tearing itself between delicacy and dissonance, the album presents a new set of tools with each passing track, re-mutating itself again and again as we pursue it in hopes of finding something resembling a pattern. Pan Daijing’s work up until now has always carried this sense of transience, freely drifting between formless performances and tense club production, and Lack 惊蛰 manages to unify this volatile sense of possibility into a frame that makes sense, even as it seems to decompose right before us. Its sounds are sparsely chosen, sometimes complementing each other, sometimes contradicting themselves, and always leaving us in a middle area between form and void.

Daijing has described Lack 惊蛰 as an “opera piece,” and its loose procession of corridors and shapes certainly allows one to imprint whatever narrative they might like as the album continues to unfold. The panging strings of opener “Phenomenon” create a sickly atmosphere, almost inhuman were it not for the ghostly vocals circling over everything; but before long, a digital signal enters the picture, twisting about like a life form emerging from within a crater. “A Loving Tongue” multiplies the electronic tones, letting them bounce against one another sensually as brief, dark pulses of noise appear and recede; the piece is less a composition and more a textural shade, and, as with the rest of Lack 惊蛰, its nature feels excitingly resistant to categorization, elegant and hypnotizing yet deeply unsettling in its porousness.

Oftentimes, Pan Daijing’s sonic ethos throughout Lack 惊蛰 is atomistic in nature, uncovering the logic of her music by constantly allowing it to tumble forward, breaking it down to its barest pieces and understanding the relationship between her sounds and empty spaces between them. Like the general theory of atomism, Daijing’s perspective is one of reduction, paying close attention to the microscopic (or even invisible) elements that constitute sound and allowing them to stand for themselves rather than as pieces of a larger, more pleasing whole that we might be more accustomed to. This minimal style comes through prominently in pieces like “Practice of Hygiene,” which commences with an ASMR-like recital of words before delving into an extended juxtaposition between what sounds like plastic being slowly rubbed, a single haunted piano note, and Daijing’s clenched, painfully constricted exhales. Each sound swerves about unpredictably, as free-willed as particles twisting through a vast nothingness, powerful and intricate in their brutal simplicity.

It’s works like Lack 惊蛰 that redraw the lines of what noise can be and that remind us of how quickly we tend to create labels, even for our most supposedly confrontational forms. Pan Daijing goes as far as to include a nod to her more tech-heavy side with the throbbing bass rhythms of “Act of The Empress,” but even this track undercuts the club for something much more horrified and in-between. The framework of Lack 惊蛰 is stark, its various pieces all seeming to point against one another, leaving us to stand in the middle of a disparate array of figures all gazing at us as if we were uninvited. It’s these exact environments that allow us to truly discover something new, to leave our preconceived notions of fear and release behind for something that cuts on an even deeper level.

Eureka!

Some releases are so incredible we just can’t help but exclaim EUREKA! While many of our picks here defy categorization and explore the constructed boundaries between ‘music’ and ‘noise,’ others complement, continue, or rupture traditions that provide new forms and ways of listening. Not all of our favorites will be listed here, but we think each EUREKA! album is worthy of careful consideration. This section is a work-in-progress, so expect its definition to be in perpetual flux.

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