Folk Collective Pans Meets Edouard Duval-Carrié in Audio-Visual Collaboration

Photo by Melanie Cruz
The untested, controversial theory that life on Earth originated from micro-organisms or chemical precursors of life present in outer space and that interplanetary transport of life is possible within the right, suitable living conditions for life to spark elsewhere.

That, reader, is the textbook definition of panspermia, a concept and hypothesis of the birth of our world as we know it.

It was also the original name of the Miami-based folk collective known today as Pans. The fundamental ideas of genesis and evolution play into the group’s history and development into a rooted member of Miami’s music scene.

Back in 2014, Adrian Garcia began assembling the group along with friend Keysel Pelaez and colleague Jack Le Sante. The band numbers no more than seven members at any one time, with its three founding members at the core of the collective. Its stated mission is one of “crafting lyrical music of a nuanced orchestral character with a robust message,” a modus operandi that reflects the constantly morphing nature of the band.

Following 2016's Oracle EP, whose cover featured artwork by American painter Maxfield Parrish, the group began set to work building its debut album, A New Wilderness. The relationship of the visual and the auditory would manifest itself once again through continual collaboration with Miami-based artist Edouard Duval-Carrié, whose work reflects his Haitian upbringing and heritage through Vodun iconography, magical realism, and sociopolitical commentary regarding Haiti’s history and mythology.

“Edouard Duval is actually the father of a good friend of mine, Tad Duval, who himself was a former bassist of Pans Permia," Garcia notes when asked about how the collaboration came to be. "We had the pleasure of being acquainted over the years of friendship, and Edouard's art had always fascinated me.

"When the concept of a cautionary sort of naturalist-themed album in the wake of our last EP, Oracle, came to the fore, I think there was a natural attraction to Edouard's art and its own stark message," Garcia goes on. "He has these postcolonial themes that seem like they are in a perpetual discourse between an Old and New World, which parallels a lot of our own conceptual inspiration behind our latest Album and how we feel about the world's current state.”
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Single artwork for "Autumn Child" and "Woods."
Photos courtesy of Edouard Duval-Carrié and Pans
The singles "Woods" and "The Last Ruins" display the work of Duval-Carrié through the use of mythical cavern scenes filled with fantastical characters commonly seen in the artist’s oeuvre. Both singles and their respective artworks harken back to the artistic direction and sound of Pans' first EP, one that continuously plys the fine line between realistic narrative and the unrestrained imaginative. The vocals and instrumentation in both releases mimic one another, as the songs' crescendos reflect an otherworldly feeling.

Released last month, "Autumn Child," with its chamber-pop backdrop, represents a stark shift for the band. There’s an ominous atmosphere the moment the song begins: “Even though a path was left for us to come and go/It’s but a shallow hole when night’s cold wind blows." The feeling of hollowness and emptiness move into Duval-Carrié's artwork for the single. The head-on stare of a figure entirely encased and relegated to an oval in the middle of a sea of royal blue is solitary and direct.

“The song touched us in a different way. We changed direction a bit because the song seemed to call for it more and more for us," Pelaez explains. It was, he says, dusty, sort of desert-like, mysterious, but in a lonely way.

"Edouard let us look through his collection again, and we found this cover of his from a series with a cloaked figure with strange eyes over the remnants of what looks like an old fort. It clicked there with us."

For Pans, the current year has spawned not only a working relationship with Duval-Carrié but a push for the band to get out of its comfort zone.

“Pans has always been a slow-moving project. There is a certain unintentional old school mentality with us about it being just about the music and that it should speak for itself," Le Sante says. "With the pandemic, interacting with fans and getting creative about how we build interest has been a really rewarding experience. Now we see we need to come out of our dark dungeons some more."

With Pans' debut album, A New Wilderness, scheduled for release in early 2021, there's a good chance we'll see a lot more of the collective in the year to come.