Panic Smile


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With a sound characterized by its lo-fi production values, frequently brutal attacks of guitar noise, and regular shifts in rhythm, Miniature is as uncompromising as it is a representative example of Japanese experimental rock band Panic Smile's music. Like Wire's Pink Flag, most of the tracks on Miniature hover around the one-and-a-half minute mark, and like Wire, Panic Smile avoid conventional song structures. Nevertheless, the prevailing sound on the album owes more to Captain Beefheart in its looser sound and incorporation of jazz and improvisation. Lighter moments like "How Much the Dream" are always infected with a deeply rooted sense of unease, and can explode into twisted guitar frenzies at any moment, and yet superficially discordant tracks like "Don't Follow Your Panic Smile" and "Freedom Is This" are worked around rhythms and musical phrases that turn out to be deceptively catchy, with the latter even going so far as to include handclaps (albeit they quickly dissolve into squalls of noise and tortured screams). Due to the short length of most tracks, Miniature clocks in at under 30 minutes, but due to the eclectic nature of the music and the individual members' skill at holding a song together even when the other members seem intent on pulling it apart, it remains a rich, if rarely easy, listening experience.

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