The Pandas - Solutions
Record Label: None
Release Date: Winter 2006
Thank God for The Pandas. This Worcester, MA based instrumental band is probably the best dreamy psychedelic outfit I've heard since Puerto Rico's Balun. The brainy quintet's sophomore release Solutions weaves its way through the course of 11 songs to craft buoyant, airy instrumentals that are stocked with a cornucopia of instruments and ambient sequencing.
Everything from a guitar synth to acoustic drums, a sequencer to the accordion, are all used here, and used quite effectively. Though at eight songs and a running time of 40 minutes, the disc does drag in spots, the entire tone is engaging and wholesome and warrants the band a heavy dose of positive press.
As for the sonic textures, this album is certainly soundtrack music that most closely resembles a Michel Gondy or Spike Jonze film. Equally quirky and daring, The Pandas meticulously carve out grandiose, bristling tunes such as the ebullient opener "Apertura," the resounding title track and the inspiring "Allele Frequency." It's one big aural spiral that whirls, spins, and bends its way through the psyche and into the marrow.
One of the band's best songs is the third track, "Tanela," which tops off at just over four minutes. The brevity of this song is what makes it so memorable. Too many instrumental bands manage to write songs that stretch on past the six or seven minute mark and end up heavy-handed, leaving the listener weary. Sadly, The Pandas fall victim to this as well, but not nearly as much as others. For all its shortcomings Solutions is an impacting, hallucinatory, triumphant and resounding disc that's nothing short of brilliant.