Pandit – Eternity Spin

Pandit - Eternity Spin

A Pandit is a Hindu holy man, learned in Vedic scriptures and able to recite large passages of these from memory. Odd choice for a band name? There aren’t any obvious eastern or religious influences amongst the the ten tracks on Eternity Spin, and Pandit themselves, while they aren’t exactly anonymous, are keeping things a bit close to themselves regarding their influences and inspirations. Which always leads me to speculate about motivation and background, without which reviewing an album is just that bit more difficult. Their Facebook namechecks Midlake and the Chemical Brothers, if that helps. In any event, their music has a familiarity about it which makes my supposed need for ever more information a bit redundant.

Essentially, Pandit are treading what is now a well worn path, first trailblazed by Wayne Coyne over a decade ago. That of laid back guitar and keyboard tunes drenched in swathes of reverb and phasing and, as Lips influenced albums go, this isn’t an at all bad collection of music. It just sounds ten years too late to really make the impression that (I again presuppose) the band want to. Whatever kind of album musicians want to create, there isn’t and there never has been any real substitute for songwriting; whether grinding out one-chord thrash anthems or rewriting the collected works of J.S. Bach. The strongest moments on Eternity Spin really do seem to rely more on production than the musicianship, which that partly overshadows. This is immediately noticeable on several tracks and eventually remains my own lasting impression of the entire album.

So, first and second impressions lead to my feeling less than overawed by the vast soundscapes Pandit build around their basic guitar and drum machine format. Though it’s undeniable that they do this with some skill and enthusiasm, they are also playing things very, very safely. First track “Pack Your Bags” has the eloquent drift of an album closer, it’s unhurried guitar strum swiftly bringing matters to a Mercury Rev conclusion, within less than 50 seconds. No drum machines as yet though, and second track “Artichoke” would have made an altogether more effective opener, an altogether more powerful and well constructed song which not everyone who listens to Eternity Spin might hear. “Skivvies” and, notably, “Kathryn My Love” are more exercises in song construction than actual songs in their own right, and the sampled intro to “We Reach Out” is that track’s most obvious strength.

Around here I started to wonder exactly what it was I wanted Pandit to do. They are obviously committed to making sounds of a very specific kind, but, what do I really want to hear from them? Crashing live percussion and incendiary guitar breaks? Swathes of feedback and mono tambourines? How about something less in the reverb and phasing department and more coherent verse and chorus structures? That would of course take Pandit away from their own defined mission statement (I won’t hazard as to exactly what that involves). Continuing to listen, “Scotch” just sounds a bit lazy, an archaic keyboard drum sound and yet more ethereal instrumentation, and it seems Pandit themselves must’ve begun to feel that something was lacking in the overall inspiration department. So, “Kodiak” is probably the strongest track of the ten here, a picked guitar, a romantic lyric, and vibes kept mostly in the background. This leads into the final and longest track “European Dance Theatre” which, while it fully reveals Pandit’s actually experimental side, probably isn’t a very easy 10 minutes to accompany with movement, even that of the expressively improvisatory kind.

“Eternity Spin” has actually annoyed me in no small measure. It is overproduced, lacking in focus both musically and in its overall concept, and really manages to sound a bit dull, despite the obvious effort that’s gone into its construction. Saying that, I don’t doubt that the album will find its adherents, although I also speculate that those might mostly consist of Pandit themselves and their closest collaborators and associates.

Waaga Records