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PanAmerican MP3

It feels a little late for holiday music, but there’s really nothing season-specific about “Christmas 1983,” a free MP3 (download) from PanAmerican, culled reportedly from the same recording sessions as PanAm’s Quiet City album (2004, on Kranky Records, whose website, kranky.net, hosts the file). Note for the anti-Santa camp: the Kranky website refers to it as “Christmas 1983,” but the MP3 appears to carry the more secular title, “December 1983.” It opens with a heartbeat pulse and some seemingly computer-generated ambience, and soon enough a six-string enters, playing at a determinedly rudimentary pace. Occasional tones match and hold the pitch of a given guitar note, like it’s too good not to linger over — the sonic equivalent of a ghost image. Only a little quieter than that confectionary haze is some natural background noise (a little movement, perhaps a muffled voice, some shuffling), which lends the whole production a down-home appeal that contrasts nicely with (or, more to the point, subsumes) the more markedly digital elements. Midway through, Mark Nelson (who essentially is PanAm) starts talk-singing (“the streets are in ruins… “), and the combination of his detached vocals and the automation of the track sounds like nothing so much as a long lost Underworld song, like “Born Slippy” in super-slomo. The MP3 is part of Kranky’s ongoing semi-monthly giveaways. More info at kranky.net, under “news and tour updates.”

By Marc Weidenbaum

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