Enneagram by Alien Panda Jury

Album Review: Enneagram – Alien Panda Jury

A challenging peek into the mind of musician willing to dive into the rabbit hole.

Much of the electronic music that comes out of the bedrooms of Karachi musicians have a similar sound to them, like a thread that weaves in and out of each of their windows, crisscrossing across the city, stitching the sounds together.

That sound is difficult to put your finger on, but it’s probably most identifiable in the shuffling percussion that you can hear in most of the Forever South artists’ music. It’s a bit manic, like each track has restless leg syndrome. Often layered and lush, the percussive elements tend to feel more like a wash of sound than a rhythmic beat, a soundtrack for being stuck in traffic rather than for the open road.

Alien Panda Jury, aka Daniel Arthur Panjwaneey, approaches his third EP from a similar sonic standpoint. That Karachi sound is here in abundance on the opening track ‘Type 4’. With cosmic vibes backed by an ambient soundscape, his voice floats in a bed of reverb while xylophone-like hits sparkle around it. It’s an opener that sets the tone for the EP – massive cosmic sounds mixed with intimate specifics.

Music video for ‘Hello Kukido’

‘Hello Kukido’, the best track on the EP, open with relentless 5-beat stabs over a wobbling bass line. It could be the soundtrack to some kind of training montage – it’s punchy and fierce and loud. But in the midst of this confidence, APJ introduces elements to throw it off balance. There is the sound of metal clanging in the background, synths shifting in and out of time. Something confident and ferocious turns into restless anxiety, the musical equivalent of constantly wringing your hands.

It’s a relief, then, when the next track ‘Fear Nothing’ comes on, with a thick static-like synth that washes over like a balm. APJ’s voice echoes in like it’s coming through cosmic speakers, making the lyrics difficult to discern; only the occasional word or phrase emerges out of the fog. This makes the vocals seem somewhat extraneous to the music, especially as their melody twists and turns, never really looping around any identifiable hooks. Perhaps that’s just the pophead in me speaking, but I don’t know how much I would have missed the vocals if they had not been part of this EP.

Alien Panda Jury. Photo Credit: Tonje Thielsen
Alien Panda Jury. Photo Credit: Tonje Thilesen

“Enneagram”, the album title, refers to a nine-sided figure used to represent the spectrum of possible personality types. The title suggests a search of sorts, an exploration of where one lies on this spectrum. The artwork, too, features a figure floating in the cosmos, lost in space, hands around some kind of explosion. Enneagram as an EP, too, has multiple personalities; confidence spins into anxiousness, anxiety to serenity, serenity to confidence again. And while this makes the EP a somewhat difficult listen, as it never really ‘stays put’, it’s nonetheless a worthwhile listen, a peek into the mind of an artist exploring different sounds and textures, different personalities and moods, an artist diving into the rabbit hole.

A challenging and ultimately worthwhile peek into the mind of musician willing to explore and dive into the rabbit hole.
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