Fly Pan Am makes impossible combinations of sound work and in some cases even make them feel natural.
No one in their right mind would ever call Fly Pan Am “casual listening.” If you choose to put on their latest — and first since regrouping in 2018 — album, C’est ça, you have no choice but to be an active listener. Long considered one of Constellation Records’ most avant-garde signees amongst a roster of avant-garde artists, Fly Pan Am has always challenged listeners and questioned traditional genre and song structures.
An album like C’est ça may get branded as ‘experimental’ but there’s nothing about it to suggest that Fly Pan Am are making music through trial-and-error. They know exactly what they’re doing and their sound is bolstered by a confidence that comes crashing through the cacophony of esoteric tracks like opener “Avant-gardez vous”. They make melody bend to their will on the cheekily titled “One Hit Wonder”, a sure-fire number one in some alternate, upside-down universe. “Discreet Channeling” is a six-plus-minute rewrite of the pop rule book, building up a colossal wall of guitar-buzz and feedback drone that effortlessly flows into “Interface Your Shattered Dreams”. C’est ça’s closing track is a juxtaposition of R&B-flavoured pop and noise; the sound a case of Beyoncé albums would make if they were fed through a woodchipper.
That last description may sound disturbing and dissonant, but Fly Pan Am makes these impossible combinations of sound work, and in some cases even makes them feel natural. C’est ça isn’t the record to put on while you casually hang out with friends on Saturday afternoon, but it’s certainly the catalyst you need to spark robust discussion about the nature of music and the intersection of sound.