Blissed-out beats and ethereal vocals
Seattle-based outfit Static Shore appeared on our radar back in 2018 on the back of ‘Sun In My Wake’, a chilled-out composition with captivating, sensual vocals. (see TEC review previously).
Consisting of Eric Smith and Shannon Alexander, the US electronic outfit trace their roots back to 2003 when Smith was inspired by the likes of Depeche Mode and Moby among others to write music. Shannon Alexander responded to Smith’s shout-out for another musician to work with and the pair collaborated for a venture titled Adrenaline Sky.
After taking a break for a few years, the pair reunited to start composing new material, under the new name of Static Shore. They issued their debut EP Life and Love in the Hologram in 2016.
Panikon represents their latest collection of compositions which, while employing a few different approaches, all embody Static Shore’s signature elements of chilled beats and lush vocals.
Album opener ‘Fall’ has a particularly bright and breezy quality to it. Tribal beats and warm, layered synths are augmented by the breathy choral vocals which gives the whole thing a summery vibe.
Meanwhile, ‘Wednesday Grind’ dips into more obvious synth-pop territory. Its repeating carousel motif has a wistful air to it against a driving beat and a mesmerising vocal from Shannon Alexander (“Help me hear your voice again”).
There’s more of a gossamer quality to ‘Many Times’. Here the hypnotic vocals from Alexander suggests nods to Goldfrapp (particularly their ‘Folktronica’ period).
‘Innocent Tea’ opts for a simpler approach with more emphasis on the vocals (which are given a curiously effective double-tracking delivery here) against gentle beats. Equally, ‘Any Stage’ dabbles in similar territory with a slower, more reflective approach.
These immersive qualities are also present on the dream pop of ‘Hush’. As a composition, it’s got a haunting twilight feel to it among its somnambulant electronics. Sonically, it sounds not that dissimilar to electro-acoustic outfit Autorotation.
‘Delphi’, meanwhile, opts for a much harder electronic approach with a raw percussive foundation. Lyrically, it plays around with more abstract ideas (“Follow me angel/Ditch the tangerine haze”) and offers a sound that’s closer in spirit to the chilled-out Balearic beats of Ibiza clubs.
There’s spacey organ melodies on ‘The Incredible Now’ while ‘Tonic’ (which closes the album out) has an ethereal quality to it with its lilting rhythms and woodblock percussion.
If your music tastes veer towards the more chilled-out end of the electronic music spectrum, then Panikon is an album that will likely float your boat. At times sounding like Portishead meets Goldfrapp, there’s plenty of moments that will resonate with the dedicated listener.
Panikon is out now.
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.