Various Artists, Panorama Bar 04

[Ostgut Ton]

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Panorama Bar: two words certain to fire the loins of house heads the world over. For if you haven’t been there, you’ve probably dreamed about going there, or wondered if the exhaustingly mythologized haunt is really worth the hype. Irrespective of whether your answer is A, B, or C, you’ve no doubt encountered the club’s mix series, and the exclusive 12″s derived from them. At this point, whether or not the Panorama series is truly representative of the club itself is somewhat irrelevant — though I’d offer a resounding “yes” — because even sans the prestigious name to boost them, the records remain sterling examples of taste. Take the A1 cut, “Hippy Speedball.” As was pointed out in our July charts, Colin de la Plante, aka The Mole, can ride a groove forever. Plenty of producers have aspired to this kind of all-or-nothing hypnosis, and all too often, the result is nothing — vapid cuts which feel light on ideas and heavy on tedium. De la Plante’s propulsive effort is anything but. As it crests gentle rises and drops back into relentless, acid-trimmed bass, all you’ll want to do is move; not ask silly questions like, “When is the next element going to come in?” It’s this kind of feat — transcending a seemingly mundane template — which goes some way towards explaining the Panorama reputation.

04‘s diversity is impressive, too. In Dexter’s “X7D,” we’re presented with a completely different vibe, trembling chords drizzled liberally across the spectrum. Here, groove isn’t so pivotal, but as the track breaks into a riotous explosion of bloops and hand drums, getting locked into the kooky atmosphere feels just as inevitable as hooking up to The Mole’s pulsating funk machine. On the B-side, Matthew Styles and Jon McMillion aren’t quite as draconian with our attention, favoring more of a narcotic stupor. Styles does so via dub, wrapping cantering beats in radiant chords and carrying them to nowhere in particular. Again, though initially the template mightn’t seem too inspiring, it doesn’t seem relevant, as Styles’ plain-sounding synths surge at all the right times. Last, McMillion’s “T-Station” is shadowed by the constant presence of voice. Strangely enough, a lack of pretense may be the simple reason why this one works. Its indecipherable vocals don’t feel sexy, menacing, witty or anything else; they’re simply there, bolstering the track’s synthy squeaks and keening pulse. More unusual is the domestic argument spliced in towards the end, and distorted to form a surprisingly good counterpoint to the cut’s padding cadence. “T-Station” rounds out another strong addition to the Panorama Bar series of 12″s — one which serves as a timely reminder that sometimes, hype can be believed.

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