A grainy sense of nostalgia and the turbulence and torpor of air travel: Fly Pan Am know well what their name implies. They take in both the poetry of flight and the modest structural deviance of a time when, apart from their instruments, experimental musicians would probably also play ‘tapes’.
Montreal, which has also given us [a]Godspeed You Black Emperor[/a] (with whom, in Roger Tellier-Craig, Fly Pan Am share a guitarist), is clearly enamoured of the slow revolution, the minimalist hook, and the glorious chiming climax. Thus Fly Pan Am will proceed with mounting urgency towards the main runway, before cannily refusing to take off, instead grinding to a mesmerised halt amid rumbling low frequencies and obligatory dissonance.
Melancholia, grim tenacity, and fragile optimism are all sitting comfortably, seat-belts on. But there are surprises, and not all of them welcome. An hour in this cabin will involve just enough worrying noises off and sudden eerie silences to unsettle the most seasoned post-rock traveller. And its centrepiece, ‘Dans Ses Cheveux Soixante Circuits’ (all titles are in their native French) has a misjudged ten minutes of weedy, jarring repetition, like My Bloody Valentine being forced to play on clean guitars.
As captivating as Godspeed, and only sometimes lacking their emotional depth, Fly Pan Am nevertheless evince a cautious euphoria and generosity redolent of a different, more comfortable era. Welcome aboard, but expect a bumpy flight.