The Fluid Hammer

PP 044LP PP 044LP

Pancrace is a quintet from France comprising Prune Bécheau, Arden Day, Julien Desailly, Léo Maurel, and Jan Vysocky. Pancrace began with a residence in 2015 at the Saint Pancrace church in Dangolsheim where the instrument inventor Léo Maurel resides. Pancrace's debut self-titled double-LP was released by Penultimate Press in 2017 and ended up on The Wire's best releases of that year. After the first record and subsequent tour the band were despondent that the main character of their story, the church organ, was not there. A series of meetings and chance encounters resulted in the band developing their own organ which they named "Organous". The approach of Pancrace is based on the physicality of sound, a choice of specific tone qualities within a given spatial contextual awareness. Therefore, the manufacturing and usage of the musical instrument are constantly reassessed. Consequently, playing with the mechanical aspect of the instruments is central to their musical approach and narrative. Designing an unbound pipe organ -- though emulating some of the mechanical idiomatics of the initial Pancrace church organ -- seemed the obvious way to gain more spatial control over a vast choice of places. This allowed them to approach their music from a totally new angle and work from within the organ. The results of these experiments are captured here, on their second opus, The Fluid Hammer. This new beast of an instrument, somewhere between a spider or an octopus, led Pancrace to compose from the frontality of the instrument as well as with the interactive tone possibilities brought by other instruments. With its six panels display (two bass registers, two treble, and a pair of crumhorns) the organ projects sound like the musique concrèt Acousmonium giving the listener a spatialized perception of a wide range of tones and harmonics. Fluid Hammer is the result of the research and experiments undertaken with the Organous and other instruments. Fluid Hammer is a more rhythmic and percussive affair than its predecessor, bringing to mind the experiments of Conlon Nancarrow as well as fairground barrel organs. The wide range of polyrhythmic patterns generates a constant tension between the machine and the human play. Music for Organous (spatialized and MIDI-controlled pipe organ), Uilleann pipes, Pi-synth, piano, motorised bow, boîte à bourdons, gaida, Baroque violin, hurgy toys, toy piano, componium, bodhran, low whistle, bird calls, AM radio, and shaker.