We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
As Pan*American, Mark Nelson follows the beatin’ path. Even though Nelson’s regular band, Labradford, has never had drums. (Hell, Labradford didn’t even hire a bass player until its second album.) When it comes to creepy drones, Labradford can’t be beat, but you’d never guess from the group’s music that Nelson is even faintly familiar with the rhythm method. Pan*American, on the other hand, has a discernible pulse. And that pulse stems from the dub innovations of Jamaican producers like Lee “Scratch” Perry, King Tubby, and Augustus Pablo. Pan*American’s self-titled debut was obviously a side-project production, doing little more than adding a Jamaican beat to Labradford’s signature atmospheric driftworks. But the band’s new album, 360 Business/360 Bypass, is much more than an academic exercise. Nelson continues to exploit dub production tricks—echo, drop-ins, drop-outs—but he relies far less on reggae rhythms. Instead, he fills out his sound with vocals from Low’s Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker (why do they sound so good working with others, but so boring on their own?) and Miles-style horn solos from Rob Mazurek. Although these tracks are definitely more at home on Kranky than they would be on Tuff Gong, they still set the proper mood to chill, mon. At 9 p.m. Sunday, May 7, at IOTA, 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. Free. (703) 522-8340. (Mark W. Sullivan)