Faun and a Pan Flute — John
“Freewheeling creativity lends the band’s music an air of unrestrained enthusiasm, uncoordinated precision, and untethered artistry.”
Atlanta experimental outfit Faun and a Pan Flute cares little about any one genre or category. The Atlanta-based nonet, now in it’s third year as a collective entity, has just released its self-titled debut. Composed and arranged through a year of twice-weekly rehearsals and recorded over a weekend in the intimate confines of Studilaroche in Atlanta, GA, Faun and a Pan Flute exhibits the band’s patient dedication to its craft and reveals the possibilities of its peripatetic nature. The group’s musical approach is wholly unique to this set of players: a spherical assembly line wherein each worker applies his trade and touch in an electric, swirling exchange to produce a work of honesty, beauty and discovery. In its current incarnation, the group involves Daniel Bailey (bass), Adam Babar and David Gray (guitar), Ben Shirley (cello), Peter Webb (saxophone), Julian Hinshaw (tuba/organ), Chris Childs (marimba) and John Gregg and Daniel Betts (percussion). In an interview with Creative Loafing Atlanta, Bailey once explained Faun’s ceaseless M.O. as an unavoidable circumstance — a fortunate and flourishing symptom of nine like-minded players wanting nothing other than to collaborate at constant rate. “We all play music all the time. Through eat, sleep, sex, defecation, and death there is music falling out of these people. If there is downtime, it is flooded with sound,” Bailey explained. Each member produces sound like common people sweat, bleed or breath. The four tracks of Faun and Pan Flute are a subtle mix of movements that are at times earth-movingly massive, lurching forward with every heaving breath. Other times, the group sounds as light as a whisper of death, admitting the finality to all things. Opening track “Linda” carries the entire A-side, as a gutter symphony fit for Godspeed You! Black Emperor or A Silver Mt. Zion but with the windows wide open. The group quickly plows through movement after movement of baroque bomp, schizophrenic skronk, and vaporous shrouds that would make Albert Ayler proud. The B-side’s three tracks highlight Faun’s intuitive explorations of the possibilities of their instrumentation and collective compositional voice, eschewing any narrow path and instead roaming in all directions. “John” bobs along its bucolic meander with a wayfarer’s sense of curiosity and whimsy, stopping by the houses of Yes and Zappa along the way. “Augur” climbs with an effervescent Reich-ian pulse then drops into a passage fraught with ritual thrumming and prickly melody, before releasing the listener to ponder the stars under a Mahler-ian immensity. “Dave” closes out the album, schizophrenically teleporting between different points on Faun and a Pan Flute’s journey, and illuminating cavernous spaces yet uncharted.