Noah Lennox has never exactly been sparing in his output. But given the immediate release of ‘Mr Noah’, an EP to precede 2015’s ‘Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper’, coupled with a mixtape shared this time last month, Panda Bear looks to be entering a prolific streak. This sudden drop of new material doesn’t consist of mere dead ends and rough cuts, either. Its lead hints at a more expansive, all-encompassing strand of classically inspired electronic music, while further cuts show signs of Lennox’s music becoming more universal.
‘Mr Noah’ is led with a gritty, guzzling monster, one that soars in different directions and sweeps up all the mess with Lennox’s signature, bellowed chants. Crazed cacophony’s always been his strong point, but here he seems to be marrying his voice with something intentionally ugly - a smart match for an accompanying video that dives in and out of grubby, piss-soaked London alleyways.
The opener gives the impression of someone drowning in ideas, fighting against the current just to get some breathing space. There’s more where that came from - ‘This Side of Paradise’ runs on the ominous mantra “like a sinking ship on the ocean” and ‘Faces in the Crowd’ begins with a mutated, disjointed synth line, like a robot becoming unplugged.
It’s not all the stuff of deep fears, though. ‘Faces in the Crowd’ eventually gives way to the sweetest, most easily flowing Panda Bear piece since ‘Take Pills’. Bells swing past like a merry-go-round, and that’s before ‘Untying the Knot’, which chugs stamping percussion alongside distant, far away samples. It’s a scattered patchwork, undoubtedly a wild selection of many, many strange strands to Panda Bear’s work, but it hints that ‘Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper’ might be Lennox’s most expansive, ambitious album to date.