Jonas Munk – Pan (2012)


Jonas Munk’s legacy continues with the first album under his own name, Pan.

Munk’s work under his Manual alias is, as I’ve mentioned before, some of my favourite music ever, and he seems to have a magic touch in whatever other projects he gets involved in (ie, Limp). Naturally, I was excited to learn that he had released a new album and jumped on it immediately.

I knew this was going to be a deviation away from the sounds of his other projects but I’ve always liked his style and was hopeful it would be carried over sufficiently in whatever this album had to offer, and I was right. As per usual, there are rich guitars, plenty of analogue synth fiddlings and a generally upbeat and optimistic feel, but…something just isn’t hitting the spot for me here.

Munk is a wanderer, his typical compositions are often clearly thought out and considered, but they feel spontaneous and on the fly, effortless. As his early albums moved away from structured melodies into shoegaze and then ambient, it became clearer that Munk was looking to break away from the constraints of full blown melodies and apply the same structures to beat-less meanderings. That’s why Pan‘s Progressive Electronic pieces surprised me; they feel to perfect, too precise.

Tracks like “Current” and the opener “Orca” are overlong; they start as they mean to go on and sadly lack a great deal of, well, progression. At 8 minutes apiece they don’t do an especially good job of maintaining a level of interest; the crooning guitars and sun-soaked analogue synth just cruise along with an established beat with no intention of deviating. The more ambient, bite size pieces like “Senses” and “Blue Dawn” are much more pleasant, oozing along at a luxurious pace and offering a nice, warm reprieve from the relentless leviathans that surround them. Their cousin, the title track “Pan”, has some nice, low key, electric guitar fiddlings that remind me a little of Mike Oldfield’s work.

“Schelling” is a bit more like it, growing from a small, metronomic rhythm into a full blown piece with a barrage of intermingled textures; from weird little flangers all the way to coarse, feedbacked guitar fragments. It’s all very quiet as we move into the space-age “Sea Of Orange”, with its gentle, reverbed weirdness, like it’s been plucked straight from a Steve Roach album, circa 1980. It’s like the sound of reflections on the surface of an ocean from another world. Very nice, but totally out of place.

Again it appears we have a problem with consistency, with tracks here just not slotting together and forming a cohesive, logical album. It’s silly, it’s like he wanted to go back to beat-orientated music but squeeze ambient interludes in as well and try and make it all fit together. It should work, you’d think it would, but it just ends up as being uncharacteristically messy.