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“Memphis Helena” by Pan•American

The first single from Pan•American’s upcoming album is as bleak, windswept, and beautiful as the desert landscape.

Many years ago, I lamented the absence of Labradford, one of the great post-rock/drone bands who essentially disappeared after 2001’s Fixed::Context. But founding member Mark Nelson has continued making dense, evocative ambient music in the spirit of his former outfit as part of Anjou (a duo with former Labradford bassist Robert Donne) but more notably, with his long-standing solo project Pan•American.

A Son is the first Pan•American album in six years, and first single “Memphis Helena” is a sign of good things to come. As the song begins, Nelson’s languid guitar and lonesome lyrics (“I’m away from home and time/We left it all behind”) conjure up driving through melancholy desert landscapes at sunset. But it takes on a Labradford-esque vibe as it progresses: Nelson adds ghostly drones that grow increasingly more urgent and ominous, leading to a denouement that wouldn’t sound at all out of place on 1995’s A Stable Reference.

A Son will be released by Kranky Records on November 8 — click here to preorder.

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