While Sightings' 2007 album got a fair amount of attention due to its producer -- longtime Load Records freak/ally Andrew W.K. -- Through the Panama is hardly I Get Wet, which doubtless pleases all parties involved. From the start, with "A Rest"'s aggressive throb of screeching, stuttering feedback rising and falling like a queasy loop from a My Bloody Valentine show in hell while singer Mark Morgan delivers the lyrics in a calm, singsong style that cuts clearly through the chaos, Through the Panama makes a hell of a mark. It's Sightings' best release for Load yet, absolutely snarling as much as instantly catchy, and as such fits in with such other releases on the label (like recent White Mice) rather than somehow sticking out. Some songs, like "Cloven Hoof," sit fully in the still-whatever-you-want-it-to-be noise genre -- roiling bass growls, dank guitar stabs, percussion loops and clicks, an embrace of compelling atmosphere without needing a hummable melody to be memorable. Morgan's speak-singing adds the hook more often than not, but even then is not out to make it easy, his muffled yelps on "Certificate of No Effect" and drawn-out slurred sighs on "Degraded Hours" hardly being easy listening.
Yet perhaps the most inspired moment lies in both the choice and method of performing the one cover version on the disc -- "The Electrician," Scott Walker's majestic, terrifying portrayal of fascist torturers in Chile, which first surfaced during the Walker Brothers reunion era. Adapting the unnerving electronic/rock/orchestral arrangement with ease -- the way the guitar and bass almost seem to hover in the air at the start catches the breath, while the stuttering breakdown toward the end sounds like a dying machine, or worse -- the band's only slight misstep is that Morgan's voice can't quite capture Walker's admittedly nearly unique power and grace. It's a small complaint, though, about such an inspired attempt.
|A Rest / Sightings||Sightings||3:05|
|Debt Depths / Sightings||Sightings||4:12|
|Cloven Hoof / Sightings||Sightings||4:42|
|This Most Real of Hells / Sightings||Sightings||3:18|
|Perforated / Sightings||Sightings||3:14|
|Certificate of No Effect / Sightings||Sightings||2:22|
|Through the Panama / Sightings||Sightings||4:03|
|Degraded Hours / Sightings||Sightings||4:38|
|Black Peter / Sightings||Sightings||6:25|