Interest | Art & Culture

Glitchy Nostalgia: Review of Panchiko's Failed at Math(s)

Jumat, 19 May 2023 17:00 WIB
Glitchy Nostalgia: Review of Panchiko's Failed at Math(s)
Foto: Panchiko
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The story of Panchiko is an internet legend as unlikely as any. Differing accounts stated that the band was formed either in 1997 or 1998 with members Owain Davies, Andy Wright, Shaun Ferreday, and John when they were in their late teens. Panchiko started out much like other bands, performing in pubs and competitions in their hometown of Nottingham, England. Between 1999 and 2000, they recorded their first EP, D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L, which was only made in 30 copies—mostly given to friends, reviewers, and labels. After receiving negative reviews and only one response from a label, the band went on to record a handful of other materials before disbanding.

It was not until 2016 that the wider public became aware of the EP's existence, by way of an anonymous 4chan user finding a copy of D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L in a charity shop in Sherwood, Nottingham, before sharing it online to find out more about the band. Disc rot has affected the old CD, making the tracks heavily noisy and distorted. Nevertheless, Panchiko gained a cult following after the tracks were ripped and distributed to file sharing websites. Online communities formed around the band, all of them trying to find out more about the band. As with everything, the lack of information around the band makes them much more interesting. It's no help that the liner notes for the EP only contained the band members' first names.

After years of searching, one member of Panchiko's community successfully found vocalist/guitarist Owain Davies via his Facebook page. Before he was reached out to, Davies had no idea that his old band had gained an online following. He subsequently contacted his old bandmates—save for original drummer John whom everyone had lost contact with—and Panchiko gradually reformed. Remasters, releases of previously vaulted tracks, and even a tour follows the reunion in subsequent years. In 2023, Panchiko finally released a new full-length album, Failed at Math(s).

Even twenty years later, Panchiko's music lies beyond easy categorization. Songs flow in a dreamlike manner, often preoccupied with its own musings. Failed at Math(s) still leans heavily into dreamy indietronica of D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L, colored with shoegazing influences, trip-hop, atmospheric noise, and glitches throughout. Some songs feature one sonic influence more prominently than the other, while others may blend them into textural curiosities. Ask different people about Panchiko's sound and you're bound to receive different answers. Isn't the descriptor post-anything kind of redundant anyway?

In many ways, Failed at Math(s) refined Panchiko's preexisting characteristics while taking them to new territories. Lyrics are still obscure, with Davies' vocals backed by crackles and noises. An unsurprising yet welcome addition, really, since the band has stated that the noises and distortion caused by the disc rot has somehow become part of their music.

While the past cannot be replicated, Panchiko managed to somehow capture the nostalgic parts of what makes D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L alluring without dwelling in it too much. The band has managed to balance new releases with fully-realized songs from the past in Failed at Math(s)—yet another slew of new compositions would certainly be more than welcome. A testament to how Panchiko moves forward after being propelled from the past, Failed at Math(s) ultimately shows how ahead of its time the once-obscure band was.