Glass Slide






Glass Slide is a four-track EP by Seattle-based synthesist, New Age traveler and cyberspace luminary Panabrite aka Norm Chambers. Originally part of a split release with Hobo Cubes on Revolving Door Records in 2013, called Ascension/Glass Slide, Chambers’ suite is available since November 2013 to purchase and stream at Bandcamp. In the overarching sense, Glass Slide is a majestic title for a Glitch-infested EP that was originally never meant to be isolated, I presume. Panabrite does not venture into particularly new territories, and yet the majority of these four tracks might alienate devoted fans while winning him new ones. This may seem superfluous to state, as this is potentially the case with a new release by any artist of one’s choice, but here the old adage is specifically applicable. Panabrite’s music is definitely not reducible to coruscating cyberspace crystals or vulturine virtual vistas, but these glowing entities make up the majority of his work, and it is among these lap joints where feisty layers and glaring sinews meet, mesh and depart constantly, leaving a wondrously technocratic aftertaste that reminds of the American Space-Age era and all the hopes and dreams without necessarily sharing the same chords, let alone instruments of that time. And naturally, Norm Chambers is also a devoted New Age artist who is willed to turn back in time and deliver elysian works of purity and a better world; Blue Grotto (2012) comes to mind, sharing the sentiments of the 70’s and moulding them into a new decade. Glass Slide features a different kind of architecture altogether. Glitch is now fully embraced and purified by scything synth swirls, a necessary procedure since the darkness is so threatening and imminent that only the brightest entities can radiate a counterpart. Read more about a particularly remarkable piece of Panabrite’s discography below.


A glacial space is created in the opener Spatiale. The formation of the red-tinted sandstone protrusions as shown on the front artwork seem farther away than ever, as Glitch particles, helixes of large-grained haze and cosmic dark matter pads in tandem with laser blips paint a dun-colored interstice of a transcendental no man’s land. Norm Chambers’ music is known for its remarkably ethereal synth washes and superstructures of euphony, but the first three minutes are willfully chilled to the bone, curiously frowzy despite their polished surface. A state of uncertainty and loneliness is imposed, the particles only sparsely illumine the backdrop of nothingness. The interim result is the same as multiplying any wishful possession with the feared number known as zero. Spatiale remains in these dark climes. Until after three minutes, that is. The mood does not shift decidedly, but melodious vestiges come to the forefront in the shapes of bagpipe-stylophone amalgamations, rotatory helicopter bass bubbles and incrementally cauterized storms of whitewashed lands. Now admixing pentatonic tone sequences to the bleep-accentuated (s)hell, Panabrite’s opener suddenly connects to harmonies and moments of bliss while still leaving everything entrapped in a moiré of precariousness, only waiting for yet another shift. In lieu of further ice-cold adjuvants, the composition ends comparably rectilineal; drone washes float through the ether, and as they fade out, they reveal a delightfully tasteless nocturnal synth aorta of the 80’s whose histrionic afterglow marks the end of a turbulent polyhedric piece. The follow-up Dirt Ring then remains in the same admonitory Glitch vestibule, sporting vitreous clangs, an argentine Space-Age braiding of aqueous sine tones and another dose of darkness with the occasional abyssal bass thump thrown in. Whereas Spatiale embraced loneliness, Dirt Ring is about forsakenness and claustrophobia… caused by its sheer wideness. A soft fusillade of snare drums boosts the tension, incisive cyber tendrils pierce through the diaphanous vacuum, fir-green cylonic rhizomes vegetate from afar, but this etiolated alloy allows no tropical conclusion. Both Spatiale and Dirt Ring are thus strictly emaciated and thinned, music for the mind rather than the soul.


The third track is called Botanical Vortex, and since I have already hinted at cautiously prospering sylvan structures in Dirt Ring, these ties are beginning to materialize appreciably here. The base frame is again completely glitchy, with vesiculating bass blobs, liquedous blotches and mucoid snare undercurrents, but this time, they are inferior slaves to a carved out synth effulgence and a warmhearted melody which, after the first two songs, can only be interpreted as surreptitious in the given context, as its oceanic refraction and granulative glissando gestalt seems to emanate erudition and a thirst for further knowledge at the same time. Resting in itself, suggesting separation while being strongly keen to absorb the surrounding blisters and bits as well, Botanical Vortex is torn between verdured color ranges and the moist dilution of its powerful physiognomy. The eponymous Glass Slide marks the end of Norm Chambers’ former split side and interpolates bliss, rapture and felicity to the nth degree. Chock-full of cyber birds, bleeping synth spirals stacked to each other, glockenspiel chimes and grafting methods realized by tumular harp-like elevations, Glass Slide’s slow-form appearance feels very enchanting, its frilly and pristine cleanliness are further indicators of the track title, but a slide is a slide is a slide, and so the genteel soothingness is somewhat wrongly attached to the idea of a slide in the classical sense, although it is undoubtedly a gorgeous endpoint to Panabrite’s glitchiest release so far.


Darkness and light turn out to be the main forces of Panabrite’s Glass Slide, and yes, I hear you, this sentence is again superfluous and not very valuable at the end of the day, for as you read it, hundreds of bedroom producers and well-known arrangers try to transform this old concept into music as well, waiting for the world to hear their definition or aesthetic take on this notion. So in a more than bold way, this sentence does not help. Luckily, there is more to Glass Slide than moss-covered folklore. As you may have noticed, I have used the genre term Glitch an awful lot over the course of this review. I am fully aware of this, but feel the urge to stress this genre’s characteristics, peculiarities and attributes as the real driving factors of Panabrite’s EP. It may help longtime fans of Norm Chambers to know that only the first two tracks are genuine artifacts of the genre, whereas the latter two make a gradual U-turn and see the Seattle-based producer unchain his trademark synth spirals and droning harmonies in order to fight the pith of nothingness once and for all. While Panabrite is doing this, the album title is still astute. Whereas Spatiale and Dirt Ring showcase pitch-black locations or superimposed blendings thereof and ameliorate them with silvery-brazen incidents, surprisingly organic oscillations, gyring flecks and tumbling glitters, Botanical Vortex and the title track are virtually awash with light, the former of those hesitantly so due to its pondering contemplation, the latter then truly luminescent and embracing. So Glass Slide offers something new for Panabrite’s fans and propitiates them with the last two songs. Glitch has always been there all along in Panabrite’s music, but it happens only now that it not only has its place in the spotlight… it is the spotlight.



Further listening:

Glass Slide is available to buy and stream at Bandcamp



Ambient Review 315: Panabrite – Glass Slide (2013). Originally published on Feb. 12, 2014 at