The Panoply Academy: Everything Here Was Built to Break

Michael Metivier

The Panoply Academy

Everything Here Was Built to Break

Label: Secretly Canadian
US Release Date: 2004-11-02
UK Release Date: 2004-11-01

This release combines two of my favorite rock music collecting quirks: bands with names that change like snowshoe hares, and odds 'n' sods compilations. Superficial I know, and it wouldn't mean squat if the band didn't warrant both the vast accumulation of monikers (including The Panoply Academy Glee Club, Corps of Engineers, and Legionnaires), and the loving attention of a retrospective. But the Academy delivers, its loose ends corralled and twined together in the form of Everything Here Was Built to Break.

The album is organized in reverse chronological order, starting with three unreleased tracks that belong to a "lost album" by the Legionnaire configuration, recorded in 2001. Following these are two more songs from the session that ended up as the 7" "Nocturnally Yours"/ "Diurnally Yours". Of these, "Nom de Plume" reminds me quite a bit of Modest Mouse, mostly due to Darin Glenn's quavering vocal, but doesn't suffer for it. Such comparisons melt away over time. "Comfort" is similarly shaky and spastic before dissolving into a quiet hum. The songs, with their shifting, seemingly unstable time signatures, aren't weighed down by grandiose orchestration. These puppies are lean. Even the eight-minute "Please Stray/Look Us in the Eyes" refuses to push its luck. It charges ahead through several transformations and remains engaging and listening.

"Diurnally Yours" features the honk of Pete Schreiner's trumpet at its outset, and is a tight little piece of rock, though it still manages to throw everything it can at you. In keeping with the order of Everything, it's the b-side presented first. "Nocturnally Yours", as its title suggests, sounds every bit the night to its flipside's day. Revving guitar and machine-gun snare drilling in the first few moments belie the more laid-back, swaggering verses. It's the first time Panoply's lyrics seem to call attention to themselves, "In these microscopic moments / We can only hope that the soldiers / Follow our example / And assume the passive posture." Recorded at the turn of the century (can it now be said?) in 2000, who can imagine what kind of connotations the song elicited upon its initial release. But it should be said, Panoply songs aren't lyric driven by any stretch of the imagination. Words and phrases bleat out of the squall of "What We Deserve" and even struggle to fight their way out of covers of Supertramp's "Dreamer" and Nick Drake's "Harvest Breed".

The m.o. for the Panoply Academy, in all its forms, seems to have been to squeeze every ounce of worth out of all the musicians at all times, even when their instruments were quiet, or put down, for the moment. Kinetic skronk like the Glee Club's "The Acquisition" is full of tight holes and pockets that live between the drums, guitar, yelping. Then after two minute, the tide recedes into measured nervousness. One of the earliest tracks here, 1997's "The Administration" begins in relatively straight-forward fashion, before sounding like it's being thrown against a wall, or an ant on the rim of a bicycle wheel that's just been hand-spun. Some call it math-rock, but that doesn't make sense to me. I hate math. Art-damaged noise? That description reeks of the unnecessary, or a bunch of assholes trying to pull a fast one on you. But Everything Here Was Built To Break is just an odd document of an odd collective, playing odd songs in their own odd way. On the last track here, "We", which features delightful "chanting by the P.A. Holler Squad," it is announced that "We spoke the right words to turn the right heads towards the We." The world of independent rock can be a cruel cruel mistress, but at the end of this run, the lines ring true.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.