When Joe Knight's one-man-band project Rangers first came on to the scene with 2009's Low Cut Fades cassette, I was pretty sure something was wrong with the .zip I downloaded. The tracks sounded warped in from another dimension, like the funkiest 1980s supermarket soundtrack I ever heard dubbed from a melting tape deck. When I realized that what I was hearing was intentional, I was of course hooked. As the year went on, I realized that Rangers' hypnagogic aesthetic was fitting right in line with the budding chillwave movement, but there was something different at the core of this stuff. It wasn't trying to be cool; there wasn't any posturing in it. Knight was clearly having fun and just exploring some incredibly rhythmic, nostalgic soundscapes.
With the release of Pan Am Stories, Knight takes things one step further. Everything still sounds like it's been mastered on VHS (that's a good thing), but the introduction of acoustic instruments and hi-fi recording techniques really allow for Knight to stretch out with his trademark slap-bass and sinuous filter sweeps. The additional freedom here is translating well, as evidenced on unfolding centerpieces "Zeke's Dream" and "Khyber Pass," which are both totally deserving of a reference to the psychedelic throb of Echoes-era Pink Floyd.
So kick back, relax, and return your seat back to the upright position as Captain Knight takes you airborne with Pan Am Stories, out now on Not Not Fun.
Rangers - "Zeke's Dream"
Rangers - "Khyber Pass"