File Under Other: Faun and a Pan Flute
Nine-man ensemble's refined absurdities flourish on the fringeThursday June 20, 2013 04:00 am EDT
Faun and a Pan Flute thrives in the gray areas that exist on the fringes of math rock, prog, and psychedelia. Depending on the night or studio session, Faun can go from roving gang of focused absurdists and high-minded mad geniuses to a band jamming out a tune. A penchant for freewheeling creativity lends the band's music an air of unrestrained enthusiasm, uncoordinated precision, and untethered artistry. The group shares bills with acts from all over Atlanta's musical road map — indie, experimental, jazz, noise, funk — acts that never completely align sonically, but with whom the band is always eager to dive headlong into new or compromising challenges. Daniel Bailey mans the fretless bass and serves as quasi-ringleader of the nine-man crew, including Adam Babar and David Gray (guitar), Ben Shirley (cello), Peter Webb (saxophone), Julian Hinshaw (tuba/organ), Chris Childs (marimba) and John Gregg and Daniel Betts (percussion). While working on the group's self-titled debut LP (out this August) at Studilaroche. Bailey took a few minutes to explain the methods behind the madness.
Is Faun a hub, or another side project for everyone?
I certainly don't see Faun as a side project, and I don't think anyone else in the group sees it that way. Possibly "equally-important-project" for some. But "The Project" or "That Which Is and Must Be" I think better sets the tone for the relationship the music has with us. Everyone is especially committed to the group, for which I am endlessly grateful. We all play music all the time. Through eat, sleep, sex, defecation, and death there is music falling out of these people. If there is downtime, it is flooded with sound. There are a lot of us and we all see each other regularly, so naturally, other projects are bound to occur.
How does the revolving cast change the dynamic of the band?
People have come and gone — three, to be exact — and there has been a sort of recovery period for each occasion. Our flow through the realm of composing is disrupted any time a musician joins or leaves the group, in which we have to either spend time explaining our music to someone — which is not a quick or particularly fun process — or we have to force ourselves to re-understand our own music in the absence of another. When someone leaves, there becomes a hellacious void in their place. In writing, we all put the pieces of the pieces together, together. I think that at this point we all see each other as essential parts of Faun. If we worked with a truly revolving cast, Faun would fall apart, or become a slopping, wet, significantly less interesting, significantly less detailed band.
Your sound is a mix of everything from math rock to prog and psychedelic rock. Is this a result of each member's background?
Everyone's individual voice comes out in some way within our music. But math rock and prog are most certainly not titles we would prefer to have associated with what we do. Maybe "prog" in a more open and fundamental interpretation, as in progressive, that's a fine word. But prog in a specific relation to a sound or genre is kind of a nonsensical idea. And the even more contrived math-rock. The term seems to act as a general net over any group using odd meter. I clearly have no qualms with odd meter music; I quite prefer it, actually. But the time signature of your music shouldn't ever be a focal point, it should, rather, be used as a tool to further expression and exploration though melody and rhythm. Many bands that are typically associated with math send me an excruciating vibe. I hear a lot of people taking advantage of time signature in a kind of perverted way that leaves it soulless and empty. There should be a certain amount of class involved with the manipulation of meter. But you can use the term psychedelic all you want, as long as it is in reference to the psychedelic concept that we are functioning living organisms with advanced awareness, plunging through the infinite void of space.