All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

6

Faun and a Pan Flute: Traffic

Dave Wayne By

Sign in to view read count
Atlanta, the home of OutKast, CeeLo Green, Usher, and really the whole "Dirty South" hip hop thing, is not a place normally associated with bands that play super-complex all-original instrumental art-rock. So, you may have to pinch yourself when you hear Traffic by Atlanta-based prog-rockers Faun and a Pan Flute. And to be totally frank, "prog-rockers" is a pretty poor choice of adjectives to apply to this strangely-named nonet. Starting out as an indie-rock / post-rock outfit with a female vocalist, the vicissitudes of life and the comings and goings of various band members re-routed the band's stylistic center through several post-rock and prog-metal-ish incarnations before landing in a sphere that has much more in common with European-based movements such as Belgian Darkwave (i.e., Univers Zero, Art Zoyd, etc.) and Rock In Opposition (e.g., Henry Cow, The Muffins, etc.) than pretty much anything else going on in the States at the moment. Faun and a Pan Flute's music is also completely instrumental, unlike similar-ish US-based ensembles such as Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Thinking Plague.

Regarding the name, Faun and a Pan Flute used to be one of those bands that changed their moniker for pretty much every gig they played. It became a bit of a joke that semi-backfired when they did several gigs in a row with the worst band name they could think of... and it stuck. Oh well. Fortunately, these guys do not take themselves too seriously.

Comprised of conservatory-trained classical musicians, self-taught ex-metalheads, and super-motivated guys with day jobs, the band's cooperatively-written compositions are a crazy quilt of interlocking sections during which different instrumental combinations come to the fore as others drop into the background. And though the music on Traffic possesses the forward motion of the best fusion and progressive rock, the modus operandi on this EP does not include improvisational solos. In essence, Traffic is an album of through-composed pieces that have more in common with contemporary classical music. Unlike classical musicians, the band does not utilize written scores in performance. All of their music is highly rehearsed and committed to memory. Thus, their musical flow comes completely from the jazz / math rock / prog continuum.

To give a blow-by-blow description of the three pieces on this EP would be boring. Each of the pieces here are different, and each balances turbulent energy with meditative rubato, dense interplay with wide-open duos and trios, and sweaty, hypnotic rhythms with near-ambient soundscapes (produced without the use of synthesizers or samplers). The instrumentation, though heavily tilted to the percussive (drum set, percussion table, marimba) and the low-end (tuba, electric bass, and cello) sides of the sound spectrum is surprisingly clear, precise and un-muddy. Chalk that up to the band's superior arranging skills.

Faun and a Pan Flute might just be the most remarkable band you've never heard of. Suffice it to say that fans of all of the previously-mentioned bands would do well to drop everything and investigate their music. Now.

Track Listing: Brevity; Ball; Height.

Personnel: Adam Babar: guitar; Daniel Bailey: fretless bass; Daniel Betts: drums; Chris Childs: marimba; David Gray guitar; John Gregg: percussion; Julian Hinshaw: tuba; Ben Shirley: cello; Peter Webb: alto saxophone.

Title: Traffic | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read New Hope CD/LP/Track Review
New Hope
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 23, 2018
Read The Nobuki Takamen Trio CD/LP/Track Review
The Nobuki Takamen Trio
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 23, 2018
Read Light Of Love CD/LP/Track Review
Light Of Love
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 23, 2018
Read Heaven Steps To Seven CD/LP/Track Review
Heaven Steps To Seven
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 23, 2018
Read In The Blue Light CD/LP/Track Review
In The Blue Light
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 23, 2018
Read Dreams And Other Stories CD/LP/Track Review
Dreams And Other Stories
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 22, 2018
Read "Ellipse" CD/LP/Track Review Ellipse
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 4, 2017
Read "Interchange" CD/LP/Track Review Interchange
by Don Phipps
Published: August 2, 2018
Read "Flying" CD/LP/Track Review Flying
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 19, 2018
Read "Volume III: Magnetic Cycles" CD/LP/Track Review Volume III: Magnetic Cycles
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 19, 2017
Read "Jazz In Movies" CD/LP/Track Review Jazz In Movies
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: September 16, 2018
Read "Creekside" CD/LP/Track Review Creekside
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 13, 2017