Every object, concept, designation and soul highly depends on the background of the very being who encounters and perceives such an entity. Nothing new is said here. The truth – let’s call it truthiness – of this adage, however, is essential for seemingly understanding and applying the background knowledge to the trigger. Such a polyvalent term, and incidentally the carrier of the reviewed artifact, is Pavilion. Whether you connect this term of French origin to a mere tent, decorative lavabo, rubicund summerhouse or crenellated complex, it means many a thing to even more people. What it could mean to Seattleite synthesist and designer Norm Chambers aka Panabrite is only adumbrated in the front artwork, no matter how detailed and lucent it may be. Enshrining eight synth-driven tracks of New Age-oid conceptions, released in October 2014 on the Chicago, Illinois-based Immune Recordings and available to purchase and stream at Bandcamp, it is one significant part and soon-to-be dominant force of the artist’s endemic multi-beam echo sounder. It might also be a red herring, depending on the connotative power the title invokes. Things are not necessarily as aglow as they seem. Organic and green Norm Chambers’ album is alright, but the stench of crystalline blueness is probably even more dominant a force throughout the runtime, serving as the glaucous superfluid that touches each texture, be it arpeggiated frost, susurrant drone dioramas or other mercurial molecules. Anthemic chimes, blotchy blebs, incisive catenae… Panabrite’s Pavilion is a work of polyfoil floralcy.


Cavernous raindrops, purified airflows, synthetic icicle coils resemblant of Panabrite’s own Blue Grotto (2012) in tandem with contrived snake charmer shawms: Veil is an opener that is ablaze with viridian colors that are unlike the sun-dappled erbaceous front artwork. Oscillating more toward an arcane antrum filled with cosmic coruscation, Veil is clandestine, self-aware and – most importantly – sealed for closer inspection. Withdrawn within itself and hued in chlorotic mysticism, it connects to New Age’s dual-purpose interface: looking back to the supernal past via futuristic clarity and dynamism. The adjacent Arcade offers an analogical experience of directness and immediacy. Instead of a hazy smoke-filled room, the listening subject enters a grainy and wondrously upbeat hexangular hall supercharged with aureate aplomb, bucolic bleeps and retrojected reverberations which serve as the wideness-inducing quilting to an autochthonous serration of bliss.


Memory meanwhile features a five-note electric piano base frame whose partially muffled overglaze twinkles in a gorgeous parallax peritoneum of vocoded wisdoms which function as vernacular vestibules in Panabrite’s fibrillar cyber crest. The level of mystery is amplified yet again but at the same time augmented by a titration process of gustatory galactosamines, polar lights and an earthbound enamel of sawtooth scrimshaw. The centerpiece of over nine minutes, the punctilio pericarp Regent, is awash with apocryphal bird cheeps, midtempo kaleidoscopes of faux-slapped silk strings and syringa square pads. Laser pulses, distorted cylon wisps, agglutinated aqua aureoles and piercing rivulets complete the cryptic cross-linkage between legato washes and arpeggiated undercurrents.


Up to this point, Pavilion is almost curiously immersive despite its refreshing textures and diaphanous sinews whose translucency allows to grasp the fluorescence behind the surfacing patterns. A contrapuntal interim protrusion is erected with the rural rusticism of Balsam, a sun-kissed cotyledon with an acoustic guitar in its epicenter. Surrounded by Doppler sirens, ring modulators and silvery wind chimes, it is the horticultural epiphany, a benthic adjuvant to the verdured diorama of the front artwork. Next to this well-lit hangar is the saltatory Pool. Narrowing the focal point down to a molecular level, Norm Chambers presents rectilineal dark matter cascades amidst tangential/tumular jots. Their viscoelasticity and jumpy physiognomy enhance the vertiginous longitudinal viewpoint via their rhythmic braiding. A spectral endpoint then harkens back to the liquedous connotation, although this seems to be a pool of polyhedric patterns rather than an actual tramontane bath.


Up next is the eponymous erethism that lent the album its name: Pavilion exists for nine minutes and juxtaposes the bluish aeriform pointillism with elasticized scintillae. While the soft low frequency drones add a vibrant endurance to the arrangement, the array of glistening sparks and prongs is what lets the aural place come to life. Downwards-spiraling cataracts, heterodyned points of contact, multiplexed whorls: Pavilion is another enigmatic locale, seemingly existing independently. Coated in half-sorrowful hues, situated in crepuscular twilight, impassive without being stolidly phlegmatic, let alone austere, the title track truly connects with the moss-covered 70’s age via post-millennial effulgence. The apotheosis comes in the shape of Quartz, a pentatonic vortex of forlorn vesicles that soon concatenate with a cannelure of staggering synth sinews whose fir-green luminosity becomes more tawny as the song progresses until a lanthanoid chromaticity rounds the ongoing metalization off.


Pavilion is an album that breathes emerald escapism, reveals seraphic superstructures, harbors a mesmeric morphogenesis. It is created in Seattle after all, and Norm Chambers’ hometown provides a dank atmosphere that is possibly only outshone by Vancouver’s prismatic epithelium, but otherwise splendidly transformed into music; New Age music, to be precise. The arrangements exude colorful voids, but their vibrance is purposely cauterized and etiolated. This process does not necessarily harm a texture’s incandescence itself, but is nonetheless realized time and again by means of the tone pitch and sequence of notes. A doleful endeavor dovetailing the glistening ctenidium with petrifying convulsions, Pavilion offers what fans of Panabrite expect: an echopraxia of the two cornerstones attached to the very meaning of New Age. The genre category – as well as the categorization process itself – becomes increasingly superfluous, especially so when one delineates the intrinsic cosmos of Chambers’ creative power, but is still serviceable enough a concept to apply in order to locate the very dichotomy of the paralyzing flow. While Panabrite is perfectly capable of unraveling technicolor terminals that are almost stupefyingly naïve in their uplifting phosphorescence – Celestial Program and Crystal Dawn Eject off Wizard Chimes (2010) jump to mind immediately –, it is the interlocked states of precariousness, synthetic wobbliness and mindful fragility that seem to be the composer’s true métier. Never too iridescent, devoid of harsh Glitch jitters, Pavilion is the commentariat of altering nature via the power of music. That compunction and quandary are poured into the essence of some notes and sounds is a given… and remain Panabrite’s forte.


Further listening and reading:


Ambient Review 386: Panabrite – Pavilion (2014). Originally published on Oct. 29, 2014 at