Four musicians from three different locations (Austria, Germany and Greece) make up Panopticon. Back in 2001 when the band first formed they concentrated on rock music but their sound had mutated over the years. They tout on their website that they combine alternative and electronic music, which is an accurate statement. After listening to their three-song EP entitled white noise I think it’s fair to say there is also a tinge of industrial and they were also quite a few times I was reminded of NIN. The NIN comparisons were thoughts that crept in my mind from the textures and tones and not from the vocalist. Certain synth sounds reminded me of something you have heard from The Fragile while other guitar tones and drumbeats felt like they could have been on The Slip.
Despite the rather overt NIN similarities the band has something to offer that is all their own. It is arguably the most apparent in the first track entitled “Violator.” The song is instrumental, devoid of vocals and offers intricate, engaging production. It starts off sounding like something we may have heard from The Notwist as percussion elements, blerps and bleeps combine into a formidable groove. Once the piano enters into the mix the song takes on a more ominous vibe. You can feel something brewing as the drums get more intense and the guitars make their presence know. The song gets to a climax and instead of getting more dramatic and grandiose breaks into a sole piano with some residue.
“Invade The Sun” is a single worthy song that has a more standard structure of verse, chorus, verse. I really enjoyed the abrasive yet warm guitar tone that combined with the twinkling synth. It’s obvious that they put some time and thought into this song. The details matter and are some of the most interesting aspects of the music.
They end with “Meat For The Masses” which will end up getting the most NIN comparisons. The hard-hitting drums and catchy melody make it the most single worthy song out of the three. It also contains some intricate attention to detail that the band displayed on the other songs.
Panopticon has skill in a number of ways. I would have liked to have heard a bit more originality at times but I think they can shed the NIN comparisons if they do a bit of tweaking Overall, white noise is an enjoyable listen any way you look at it. The whole EP barely eclipses the ten-minute mark but feels rather satisfying.
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