Pan American is a moniker of post-rock musician Mark Nelson (Labradford). Kramer is a New York music man, mainly producer, who I had the pleasure of reviewing and interviewing not that long ago. Mr Nelson and Mr Kramer, team up here to create a 12 track malaise into dense space fog. Detached from the ship, the listener floats into the unknown. Or something to that effect.

Track one “Floating Island” does what it says on the tin. It’s ethereal and full of light electronic refrains. It’s a good start to a pretty chill record. Track two “Plants Used For Weaving”, which after multiple listens has become one of my favourites here, brings both a beautiful and haunted feeling. The intro brings to mind an image of a great building, one that exists outside our own realm of physical possibility, crashing to the ground in a black and white world with vast plumes of smoke and dust. This sound of the opening chord reminds me of a great monolith organ which may be inside that building, excreting one last burst before the symbolic death of something that perhaps stood proud for a millenia or two. After this bizarre portrait it moves again into a style akin to the album’s opener, with a faint resonance of the “monolith organ chord”, gently carrying the sparse guitar and synthesis.

So far it feels like a record about space and drifting through it. That could be traditional space with connotations of astronauts and satellites or like I just alluded to, a more nightmarish, uncanny valley-esque dreamscape with images of no specific rhyme or reason. Already this album is winning in the visual department. The start of every track seems to be synching with images that have been hibernating in my head, waiting for this specific moment. I sound all hippy dippy do la here but I’ve gotta say how I truly feel with this one.

We know from past reviews I love some heavy shit. Alas with the love of heavy shit, comes the necessity to love some softer shit. Side A of this record is non-stop, softer shit, which is blissful and genuinely calming. I’ve been going through a bit of a rough time recently. As cliche and boring as it is, my mental health has been taking a pounding. Some self-inflicted sadness and exile, some unfair residue from choices I’ve made, my thoughts at the moment aren’t the most pleasant. Writing this in the dark hours then, letting the chords and sparse synthesis wash over me, it’s quite a welcome, calming experience. Probably the most relaxed I’ve felt all week.

“Boundary Fence” adds to this sci-fi aesthetic I’m feeling so far. Trumpet-like instruments in the stars, being played by beings not quite earthlike. They certainly have a homunculus quality, but there’s something angelic or godly about these mysterious players. They hover over whatever or wherever we think our reality is held, ready to throw us some wisdom, or perhaps save us from damnation. It’s probably because I’ve recently watched some sci-fi movies, but this track in particular I could easily see pairing with something like ‘Interstellar’ (2014) or ‘Spaceman’ (2024). The latter in particular, with its purple palette and arachnid characters, would be the perfect foreground.

Finishing side A with “Aquaculture” and “The Soft Structure”, side B briefly continues this lighter ethereal trend with “A Mountain is an Ancestor”. The overall feel thus far has reminded me at times of Tycho’s classic chillwave album ‘Dive’ (2011). Granted, there aren’t any pulsating drums here that you can find on that stellar instrumental record. It does, however, take me back to a specific place and time. When stressed in the 24 hour library at university,  I would go to that Tycho album and let the energetic and uplifting beats splash across my brain. It put me in the zone for doing last minute work and helped through the stresses that come with being an unorganised fuckwit. Straight away ‘Reverberations of Non-Stop Traffic on Redding Road’ feels like an album I will come back to in times of strife. Music to zone into a specific slither of emotion or mindset. My immediate reaction to ‘Dive’ was similar, one of instantaneous connection and understanding of the music that feels like a friendship that will last for years.

Now it’s interesting that the next track is called “The Caretaker”. It’s possibly a homage to English electronic musician James Leyland Kirby, AKA, The Caretaker. Mr. Kirby released a series of albums between 2016 and 2019 called ‘Everywhere at the End of Time’. This recording is split into 6 stages, exploring the topic of Alzheimer’s disease. Using samples of ballroom, big band and music of the ilk from the 1920s and 1930s, The Caretaker employs looping and a gradual degradation of audio quality to create an extremely haunting and moving piece of art. Although track 7 here doesn’t have the same apparent weight or heaviness of that particular topic, it has fractions or slithers of similar feeling. It has a crackling and fuzz that comes in repeatedly, alongside a sinister and distant throb which is ominous and forever growing. Spooky shit.

It’s even spookier then, considering The Caretaker took his name from Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ (1980). Known for being a classic in the horror genre, and containing one of the most iconic movie scenes of all time, there are also theories that the film is filled with references and symbolism about the director’s involvement in faking the moon landings. Moon landings, space, Kramer, Kubrick, Pan American… It’s all coming full circle!

Musically “The Miner’s Pale Child” is probably one of my favourite cuts from the record. Again, it has this fuzzy, haunting quality like the previous track. Dark, explorative and sparse, I think it’s a good jumping in point if you’re unsure with the descriptions I’m relaying so far. Reminds me of the fine work Mr. Justin Broadrick – if you know you know – has generously bestowed upon my ears over the years. Think Jesu-lite with this cut. The following track “Groundwater” is equally as strong in terms of pure instrumentation and reminds me of one of my favourite albums of all time. Arguably one of the most moving and breathtaking collections of tracks ever recorded, Bark Psychosis’ ‘Hex’ (1994). A post-rock classic, the short-lived English group pull me in with their atmospheric slowcore style with elements of world music thrown in for good measure. Here, there is no dubby rhythmic bass or exotic drums, but the guitars again, create a misty quality which reminds me heavily of that severely underrated record.

Same can be said for the following track, “On Redding Road”. Its intro has faint allusions of some kind of mournful procession via what sounds like a very distant trumpet, half buried in the mix. Sounds like reels of film being poured over, again reminding me of the memory like exploration of previous tracks. If you told me, “Groundwater” and “On Redding Road” were b-sides to ‘Hex’, I’d believe ya!. It’s the kind of post-rock I swoon for. Music that sounds like it was recorded in some sort of glass dome under a shattered night’s sky, glassy and industrial.

Throughout “On Redding Road” there is a rustling, as if something or someone is moving through grass or shrubbery, perhaps in a secretive fashion. There seems to be a constant theme of movement all over Side B to be honest. Perhaps the movement of a traveller, witnessing a timeline of their life. One they can no longer intervene or interact with. A reflection of an existence perhaps incorrectly navigated or overcome in an ultimately futile fashion. It seems fitting then, assuming this traveller is in the throes of some sort of mystical death, that we end on a track entitled “Floating Epitaph”. The bright guitars are back and things seem to have calmed down a touch. It naturally contains melancholic piano and some dull synth thuds for dramatic effect and overall, it’s a solid album closer. Perhaps not as BIG or epic as one may like but honestly, there’s nothing grand or explosive about death either. It’s usually a slow fade. A collection of whimpers incapable of being registered on the fabric of time.

I want to praise Kramer and Pan American for telling a story without words. The music is moving enough to convey a specific reflective experience I really needed right now. It has genuinely brought me some peace and perspective, so thank you. If you’re a fan of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Haxan Cloak or The Caretaker, give this album a crack. And even if you’re not, why not give it a go anyway? After all, it’s just a burning memory.

Pan American & Kramer: Reverberations of Non-Stop Traffic on Redding Road – Out 22nd March 2024 (Shimmy Disc)

AMERICAN & KRAMER – “FLOATING EPITAPH” (Official Shimmy-Disc Video) (

Liverpool born music writer with passion for punk and Everton FC