What do you get when a classically trained pianist meets self proclaimed “hopeful house enthusiasts and purveyors of nostalgic electronic sounds?” Why, you get the subliminally piercing motley crew of Australians known formally as Panama, of course. Signed to the aptly named record label Future Classic, these Aussies seem to be blissfully unaware of the wonderment they’ve created in contradicting theatrical training with modern electronic orientation. Their sound is distinctive and socially marketable, but the individualized success of “Always” is cringe-worthy considering the tremendous potential the track effortlessly flaunts to a hungry viewership. “Always” has cast a shadow of brilliance over the remaining tracks on Panama’s sophomore 2014 EP (also titled Always), but the fact that this is one of only two musical collections that Panama has produced leaves hope for upcoming excitement.
So why exactly does Panama’s formula produce such enticing dividends this time around? The answer partially lies within Panama’s ability to forge balanced equations using appealing contradictions. The song begins with mind-numbing electronic osculations that sedate the senses, then transitions into a naked and powerful piano to capture the listener in intellectual absorption. The strong piano is joined again by a polyrhythmic intermingling of beats and a steady kick-drum that constitutes more than just a foot tap. Then, “Always” ceases its intensity-driven fixation on keys and introduces an energetic and repetitive drum pattern and space-filling synth that inject a serious dose of adrenaline into the bloodstream. The balancing act doesn’t stop there, as the Panama make sure to cut the percussion once more at the close and bequeath the listener with a fantastic piano chord pattern that leaves only the desire for more time to detox from the rollercoaster of feelings that “Always” just put everyone on. The song is elegant yet exhilarating, ferocious yet calculated, and wide-eyed yet stupefying to the point that it essentially promotes itself in antithetical appeal. Again, let’s hope Panama recognizes the blueprint to marketable prosperity in their upcoming releases so that they may grace the world with more commonly admired songs like this.