Oct 31, 2022
By Linden Krause
The future is envisioned through a time capsule of atomic America in Reset, the first joint album from collaborators Panda Bear (Noah Lennox of Animal Collective) and Sonic Boom (Pete Kember, formerly of Spacemen 3). Kember was thanked in the liner notes for Panda Bear’s beloved 2007 release Person Pitch, and shortly after they connected via MySpace. The follow up LP Tomboy in 2011 saw them team up with Sonic Boom on mixing credits. Reset toys with a cache of ’50s and ’60s vinyl loops selected from Kember’s collection, which serve as wistful iconography for an imagined post-apocalyptic serenity.
Sonic Boom devised the sample loops not as additions, but sonic foundations for the project, which were then passed to Panda Bear during lockdowns. A sample from Eddie Cochran’s 1960 ditty “Three Steps to Heaven” serves as the sunny portal to the not-entirely-distant past, and the opening riff revels in its own simplicity on “Gettin’ to the Point.” When layered with heady effects and a lyrical credo of “back to basics,” the loop quickly becomes meditative in its repetition. There’s a bizarre sensation in being transported to the naivety of sock hop USA by the two. Both the druggy gospel of Spacemen 3 in the ’90s, and Animal Collective’s later existential experiments seem to continuously orbit into some unknown realm.
It’s clear that the duo found catharsis in not just paying homage to their influences but versing alongside them through darker times. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is heard on “Edge of the Edge.” Lennox effortlessly harmonizes with the bubblegum doo-wop of 1963’s “Denise” by Randy and the Rainbows, while glitchy computer sound bites ring and handclaps act as percussion. “Can’t say it’s what you bargained for/It’s forever at the push of a button.”
Both appear on vocals during “In My Body,” taking off in a celestial choral and met with a gentle sprinkling of sunshine synth. Sonic Boom mans an Eventide H910 Harmonizer, known for its ability to “fuck with the Fabric of Time.” “Whirlpool,” another highlight, offers a dubby refresher later in the album.
It seems this could be a Village Green moment for the digital era, albeit less pastoral and more focused on the psychic landscape. (www.pandabearofficial.com, www.sonic-boom.info)
Author rating: 8/10
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