Panther Modern – Howl review

The current house strains of Bristol’s ever mutating music scene have become well documented by now, with the Young Echo collective providing perhaps the most compelling output. While it was undoubtedly not his intention, Seb Gainsborough has become the Young Echo focal point for his work as Vessel. The handful of releases on must check labels like Astro Dynamics and left_blank demonstrated an ever growing talent for smudged out, slackened house that fully justifies the swelling expectation from music buyers and overly verbose writers alike. Recently announced as possibly the most intriguing signing by Robin Carolin’s Triangle Records imprint, the interim period before the release of a debut Vessel album is filled by Gainsborough adopting another alias, Panther Modern, and adding the long-running Bristol hub Immerse to his discography.

Brandishing a name clearly inspired by William Gibson’s cyberpunk classic Neuromancer, the most impressive aspect of this two track release is the range of ideas explored and the confidence Gainsborough has in his production to execute them. The desolate nature of the opening moments to “Howl” draw you into thinking the producer has expanded the themes of industrial dystopia further. However, the track soon morphs in mood and tone; arising from the grainy mists into a brilliant, almost dreamlike boogie refrain driven by a playful subaqueous bassline, stripped down percussive rhythms and scrapings of rusted analogue textures. At one point the track seems like the elements have conspired to rip apart its whole, before swerving back into line, lending the track a certain improvised feel which only the talented can muster.

Alongside this, the pulsing thick set Motor City groove of “Pietimento” provides a more substantial opening; yet again it’s the effortless swagger with which the track shifts that truly impresses. Deft flourishes of strings soon appear, granting the track a sense of incandescence, yet this doesn’t really prepare you for the full scale explosion into a kaleidoscopic, heavily textured synth freakout underlined by subtle Bristolian sub bass intricacies which would be impressive for a veteran, let alone a producer in his early 20s.

Tony Poland


Tracklisting:

1. Howl
2. Pietimento