Review: Pandaville – Songs from Pandaville (self-released, Jun 7)

a0164263387_10Songs from Pandaville is the sound of hope. Oh what an auspicious future we as a society might have if there were more people like Eli Neuman-Hammond doing all they can to engender a love for free artistic expression among our youngest comrades. In addition to the innate intrigue of the sound pieces themselves, which were performed by each of Neuman-Hammond’s students individually and collectively on a setup consisting of “amplified water, stones, plastic and metal vessels, voice, cups, brushes, water bottles, and bubble wrap” and may or may not be the results of the ragtag graphic scores pictured on the cover, much of the delight in listening to this collection arises between the seams. Ari, a lad after my own heart, immediately asks to hear his recording before it’s even finished; Lena expresses appreciation for the specific sonic actions she conducted over the course of her performance; participants play rock-paper-scissors to see who goes next and compliment and chant for each other’s efforts; impromptu, impassioned cries of “CUP SOLO!” abound. Any group of kids who spend more than a few minutes together develop a sort of temporary dialect that is a perfectly inclusive summation of literally every ounce of energy contained within each, and that energy comes through with infectious appeal on boisterous ensemble cuts like “Rayford’s Trio.” The suite of outdoor “live” recordings that conclude the release are probably the most “purely” acoustically pleasing, with the distant squealing of breaks and natural ambience melding wonderfully with the diverse offerings from Haddie, Rafa, Nico, Maisie, and Mira. “Banana bread!”

(Don’t forget; Lena’s birthday is coming up again in a week, so send her your salutations.)

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