The danger of any musical side project is that it might one day overshadow its creator's main gig. Mark Nelson's 1997 debut as Pan*American was a beautiful slab of menacing dub that made his textural band Labradford sound downright New Agey. But further listens to both that Pan*American record and the past two Labradford albums (Mi Media Naranja and E Luxo So) have established Pan*American as a compelling complement to Labradford rather than a threat. Both projects are so focused on minimal, ambient drifts that there sometimes seems to be little room left for melodies, but Nelson makes every note count. Pan*American demonstrates impressive growth with the new 360 Business / 360 Bypass, a disc that takes the basic elements of its predecessor and adds to them more refined arrangements and atmospherics. While Labradford has grown ever more mysterious, like a picture left hanging in the sun for so long that you have to strain to make out its faded, yellowed image, Pan*American has grown more accessible and delineated. It helps that the latter has the benefit of a barely present beat and, in the case of the mostly instrumental 360 Business / 360 Bypass, both the mixing skill of Casey Rice and choice cameos by cornetist Rob Mazurek and Low members Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker. Sparhawk and Parker add a predictably entrancing element to the hypnotic "Code," intoning the lyrics like a funereal mantra. Nelson, with his dark yet pastoral soundscapes, still comes across as just another worshipper at the house that Eno built (with the help of some of Jamaica's best), but with each release he further demonstrates his worth as a giant of understatement.

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