Paul Baran – Panoptic

Paul Baran

CD – Fang Bomb
A hoarse voice stands out. This is the beginning of “Scotona Song”, conceived as something like an opening sketch that features walkie-talkie humming and a droning organ – a dirge characterized by minimal but expressive musical elements. “Panoptic” by Paul Baran moves on to balance multiple influences in a sort of melancholic instrumental avant-jazz, a hybrid conceptual and electro-acoustic production. The sound sequences, most of them recorded in Glasgow and Vienna, are organised into a series of unstructured ballads. Their production relied on many fruitful collaborations with musicians like Werner Dafeldecker, Keith Rowe, Ekkehard Ehlers, Timothy Cooper, Andrea Belfi and several others. All the tracks are inspired by the oppressive leverage inherent in the idea of the “panopticon”, a “control architecture” but also a place of ruthless experimentation and analysis. In “Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison”, a critical essay written in the mid-seventies (which became an absolute reference point in discussions about the society of control) Michel Foucault suggests that “any form of identity is never pure”. In the same way these eleven tracks are linked by unsettling, enigmatic and contagious chains whose roots are never certain and distinguishable. The crossed signals and elliptical phrasing have been recorded in the form of a free polyphonic non-writing, apparently able to roam among multiple possible states of reality, but not completely free from the control of some deep, unnatural constraints.