Panebianco, Paul - Sense Of Self

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Self released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 42:55:00

Sense Of Self is New Yorker Paul Panebianco's first true solo release (he's released demos in the past), comprised of material that he has composed over the years. Sense Of Self is a solo release in the truest sense, as Panebianco plays drums, his primary instrument, keyboards (samples and synths), and handled all production duties, as well.

Like The Muffins, Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic, Univers Zero, and others than flit into my mind (and then out before they can be named), Panebianco creates textured music that mixes jazz and classical touches into a hybrid that is closer to the first. The symphonic sound is complete with the sounds of piano, keyboards, flutes, violins... (those samples); the style upbeat, maybe a tad eccentric - oh, well short of the eccentricities of French TV or Dreadnaught, but containing just a bit of something that is winkingly playful. Another thought that came to me as I listened more was: After Crying without vocals or cello.

As you might have guessed from the comparisons above, Panebianco plays noodly progressive jazz rock. Not that the compositions wander aimlessly or anything. There's a direction the pieces move in, though it may not be a straight line. While the pieces evoke imagery, they are too varied within to be perfect cinematic accompaniment to anything but very avant-garde and non-linear films (with one exception). No piece is absolutely perfect, but each is very, very good. Just an overall sense, that with a few tweaks here and there in various pieces, it'd be fantastic. But, as I said, it's very, very good. Maybe perhaps a little too noodly at times...

The opening track, "Red Tape" clearly defines this "noodly progressive jazz rock" style, as Panebianco strolls through an easily meandering path, though by no means calm and sedate, only reach a place, right at the end, that comes to be in an eccentric, frenetic, jittery fashion, and quite unexpectedly.

"Hopeful" is a good track, that puts extended violin-like tones front and center, though in the first passage, perhaps a little too much out front. Behind it, we hear gurgling bass sounds, snickering percussion, and piano. It is a piece this is upbeat and bright. It does seem to lose its way at times, complicated passages added almost in a "because I can" fashion (though not showy), that play against the mood set forth by the main rhythm. And, yet it's these very elements that keep it from simply restating the same phrase over and over again, a particularly sweet phrase, but if played as nothing more than starting point/touchstone, would become ... overplayed. It ends with a short funky phrase, that leads right in to "Origin Unknown." Fat, slow, tart bass lines play underneath elongated violin-like tones that have a classical colour to them, before the piece heads off for more eccentric territories. Nice demonstrative and boldly stated piano phrases give this piece the necessary heft and sense of strangeness that the title suggests. This ends in a very classical way, with lots of piano, leading right into the darker "Shadow Step." Tones here almost suggest a carnival, but in very slow, haunting tones... Something Wicked This Way Comes comes to mind, actually. Well after dark, and well after closing... true natures step... ahem, step out of the shadows. And yet, unlike Something Wicked... it isn't so much a horror scene, but more tragic, as if seeing the true lives of those who put a brave face for the crowds. That the clown is an alcoholic, for instance. Oh, this is all in my head, nothing that Panebianco has written down or anything. It's probably not all what he was thinking...

"Hat Magic" is a throatier piece, darker than the others, but quite different from "Shadow Step." It's a different kind of darkness, as there is a bubbliness to the arrangements... the fun side of night, maybe, keeping with the theme. Here, instead of violin, the keys emulate trumpets, muted, soft-hued trumpets. And for some really dark moments, Panebianco uses some deep, throaty bell-like tones - church bells, mind, not hand bells - as lead instrument in "Triumph Over Adversity" ... they sound... unnatural, as bells just don't chime like that (or I just don't think they do), a little too quickly rung, I think... (and yet, they haunt ones memory). They are contrasted later by xylophone-like tones, which more naturally match the pace. At one point, towards the end the church-bell tones are paired with keyboards (Emersonian almost in sound), that the piece ends. It's again violin-like tones that actually end the piece. Moodiest of all is "The Night Of The First Light" that ends the album. Dark and breathy synths create a foggy atmosphere, before being joined with softer, breathier keyboards. It's quite different from the jazzy rock that has come before... Atmospheric? Very much so...

Panebianco's official debut is a very good effort; not perfect, as I said, but worth checking out, if you like any of the artists I mentioned at the outset.

Red Tape (6:38) / Hopeful (6:34) / Origin Unknown (7:25) / Shadow Step (4:02) / Hat Magic (3:38) / Triumph Over Adversity (11:26) / The Night Of The First Light (3:07)

Paul Panebianco - composition, keyboards, drums, and production

Sense Of Self (2005)

Genre: Other

Origin US

Added: July 4th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 837
Language: english


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