fly pan am – self-titled

i am back in french canada again. where louisville produced x, montreal produced y. it’s not somewhere you would expect to find a hot bed of anything. in fact, i have significant problems with the continued fur trade propped up by frozen francos. i digress…

there is something more discernibly rock about fly pan am as compared to their contemporaries. it’s quite odd to listen in close quarters to this, their first album, and set fire to flames a few days back. this is more repetitive. more rhythm driven. and yet, at other times in the midst of seemingly predictable story arcs of the music, there’s a sudden and long-lasting interruption with a return to the most basic elements of sound; moved in with disconcerting excerpts of noise. it makes one wonder how long it will last, and how it will end.

so conceived of as music that keeps you on edge? it’s not anxious music, don’t get me wrong. take as an example the many minutes of repeated same drum beat and chords, unwavering, through the majority of the seventeen minutes of dans ses cheveux soixante circuits. you keep expecting something unexpected, and yet it simply fizzes out of action, literally.

in reverse, bibi à nice, 1921 begins very quietly with a few scathing sounds from left field over everyday background noises, suddenly reaches a melodic rock phase, tunes out again briefly and then finishes with a different rhythmic section using perhaps some steel drums! you couldn’t plan for it.

i’ve often thought the french canadians see the world in a quite different light. in popular culture, degrassi humour, corey hart, origins of jack kerouac, arcade fire for fuck’s sake. more french than the french? compromised by sharing their space with dodgy north americans, indeed global citizens of all persuasions? whatever creates their unique take on the world, it’s worth peering into sometimes; but it’s almost never straightforward.

as for the special circumstances of a collective of montreal musicians, this album was only the eighth release on constellation records. this was back in the days of their manifesto being all important. fly pan am are no longer a unit these days. but their live show supporting do make say think in vancouver back in 2002 was passion in rock rarely seen before or since.



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