Le Fly Pan Am: N'Ecoutez Pas

Hard to believe that another Montreal band could match the ferocity of Godspeed You! Black Emperor but Fly Pan Am (guitarists Jonathan Parant and former Godspeeder Roger Tellier-Craig, bassist J.S. Truchy, drummer Felix Morel, and multi-instrumentalist Eric Gingras) does exactly that on N'Ecoutez Pas, its fourth Constellation release. While its last album, 2002's Ceux Qui Inventent N'ont J'amais Vecu (?), merged post-punk, musique concrete, and funk into a 'self-sabotaging' cocktail, the staggeringly intense new album emphasizes experimental guitar noise. Combine motorik drumming and raw guitars with voices that whisper and scream, add field recordings and electronic treatments, and the result is one fearless, even assaultive, hardcore sound.

The uncompromising tone is established immediately by the buzzing guitars of “Brûlez suivant, suivante!” and the muffled, scratchy clatter in “Exéleveur de renards argents.” But these are delicate preludes compared to “Autant zig-zag,” an eleven-minute epic whose opening wail of raw guitars almost obliterates the accompanying drums, bass, and voices. Amazingly, the intensity and volume escalate further, building from a thrashing storm where voices barely surface (the background “woo-woos” recalling “Sympathy For The Devil”) to a crushing roar that engulfs everything in its path. It's a volcanic ride that's leavened by the relatively accessible character of brief abstract collages (“…” and the more cacophonous “Buvez nos larmes de metal”) and conventional pieces like “Pas à pas step until” where clearly defined bass and drum rhythms anchor blistering guitar eviscerations; the group even shows its quieter side on the soundscape “Ce sale désir éfilé qui sortant de ma bouche.” The second epic “Très très “retro”” is less fierce than the other, and also spotlights the group's krautrock leanings, as Morel works up a solid martial groove for Truchy's lead. Here and elsewhere, the bass acts as a stabilizing center for the freer caterwaul around it. By now, it should be obvious that N'Ecoutez Pas isn't for the faint of heart but the band would obviously have it no other way. It's an exuberant collection that's chaotic, ecstatic, and dissonant, most often at the same time.

October 2004