It’s easy to imagine Norm Chambers as equal parts musician and mystic - one hand on the keyboard playing blissful synthesizer melodies well the other hand dances wildly in the air, collecting ethereal timbres. This balance comes organically on Chambers’ latest outing as Panabrite, Soft Terminal, out now on Digitalis Recordings. Nothing on the record is forced, it evolves naturally and Soft Terminal exemplifies the interaction between humans and synthesizers as a point of transcendence. Gentle melodic waves, pulsing sequences, and crystal leads float about, conjured into meeting before dispersing back into the ether.
The album opens with “Rainbow Sequence” a hazy patch resembling an electric piano strikes delay saturated chords, a color washed, cross processed image appears as a vocoded voice sings an indecipherable incantation, and LFO chirps appear as DNA strings carrying the plan for the rest of Soft Terminal’s existence. An arpeggio swells in the background, frequencies filter, the picture grows clearer. A low analog drone grows, stretching along with the LFO chirps until they form pulses of pure energy. “Index of Gestures” follows taking the meditation to movement. Against a hypnotic sequence, a vibrato filled lead attempts to mimic human speech~the synthesizers are now alive and Panabrite acts as medium, channeling the cosmic message.
Panabrite explores the neo-kosmische (or neu-kosmische, rather) of modern synthesizer music that grew in popularity in the middle to late oughts. Rather than become absorbed in passionless criticism or trend absorption, he moves forward with the idea of cosmic exploration. Soft Terminal is an album that reconciles the synthetic, the vast unknown of the cosmos, with the organic, the human experience within the cosmos.
Songs like “Janus” and “Sound Softly” are driven by beautiful guitar melodies, while the drum machine cameos as propulsion in “Camembert Symphony,” although, in large, Soft Terminal is composed from synthesizer sources. Panabrite is obviously familiar with the instruments and this allows him to convey the message of cosmic unity that much clearly. The title of “Microlife” is indicative of the album as a whole - each song expounds upon the miracle of life springing from the lifeless, with the synthesizer as primordial ooze from which component organisms emerge in surprisingly complex form to connect in waves of beautiful movement before dispersing back to source.
- Curt Brown (of Rubber City Noise/Black Unicorn/Cane Swords) for Experimedia - Buy