Panorama, the debut from Berlin up-and-comers Pan-Pot, the production/deejay duo of Tassilo Ippenberger and Thomas Benedix, is a churning, deep exploration into darker corners of contemporary minimal techno. Pan-Pot favors an incessant ominous kick drum as the backbone of every track, sprinkling sparse melodies of synth, chattering cymbals, and eerie electronic effects into the mix. Existing on the opposite side of the spectrum from fellow Berlin-based peers BPitch, Ippenberger and Benedix are content to probe a much less active listening experience, which allows the musical adventure to shift entirely to listeners.
Techno’s popularity has grown in the last few years due to an embrace of pop melodies. But Pan-Pot does not exist to provide complex rhythmic and melodic patterns. Instead, “Black Fusion” and “Crank” attach a sinister tone to the minimal melodies and pounding drums, resulting in an unsettling listening experience. Without the head-spinning melody overload, we have no chance but to allow ourselves to be lost in this dark, lonely world.
By shaping our experience of Panorama, Pan-Pot’s spare melodies serve as a rescue line, making the pervasive disconcerting feeling subside. “Charly” may be the eeriest of all, with the foggy, mechanical vocals of a mysterious guest named Hugh Betcha deadpanning line after line about cocaine. Musically, “Charly” chugs along at a brisk pace compared with much of the rest of the material. A percussive synth motors at double the speed of the 4/4 kick, snare, and high-hat, resulting in both a highly danceable beat and a sensory overload for headphone listening.
Panorama challenges the minimal techno by forcing us to see what exists behind the bright melody. Pan-Pot’s techno is a lonely, dark, and depraved world, and it certainly makes the experience of techno and all of its subgenres much more complete. Panorama at times thrills, terrifies, and forsakes, but it always engages and rewards, the hallmarks of any successful record.