Stefan Panczak, aka Inch-time, might have swapped the environs of Adelaide for the hustle and bustle of London, but it’s a move he’s glad he made. Since releasing his earliest records back in 2003, Inch-time has quietly forged an irrepressible niche which has taken on a life of its own. His subtle melding of gleaming electronica and a whole host of other ingredients – from dub to folk textures, and languid jazz stylings to post-rock atmospheres – has evolved to take in new elements while sticking to the unique approach which Panczak has made his signature since his debut album, 2005’s Any Colour You Like.
Released on Static Caravan, Inch-time’s first full-length offering combined the string- fuelled beauty of ‘Kyoto (Autumn Leaves)’ with more obviously electronic compositions – Panczak’s sublime music brings together the organic and electronic to devastating effect, often in the same song, and his ear-catching debut was evocative of moods which recalled the likes of Tortoise, Talk Talk and Labradford at their most ornate and melodic.
It’s not surprising that Panczak’s music seamlessly incorporates jazz-flecked motifs – he once sold his saxophone in order to buy a sampler, after all. Being raised on a nourishing stew of jazz and psychedelic rock has served him well and it seems appropriate that Inch-time recordings are so expansive and multi-textured, building slowly to add in new layers and sounds, embellishing crystalline melodies with crinkled beats, clicks and whirs.
The spectral ambience of follow-up album As the Moon Draws Water, released in 2006, continued many of the themes which first drew listeners in but created something which was at once familiar yet entirely new, capturing the brooding intensity of Mezzanine-era Massive Attack as well as the kaleidoscopic concoctions of DJ Shadow, Four Tet and Animal Collective. A string of EPs and cassette releases have followed – not to mention the rich and ambitious Teaism compilation curated by Panczak, featuring a collection of songs inspired by the culture of tea – all underlining the versatility of Panczak and his compositions, which twist majestically and burrow their way into the subconscious.
The Floating World, the third Inch-time album, finds Panczak on the cusp of a new beginning. It marks the first release on his new self-run label, Mystery Plays Records, and as such is the latest stage in Inch-time’s evolution. With an enchanting melodic grace reminiscent of Philip Glass, Panczak’s minimal and achingly fragile electronica soars and glides, bewitching with its slow- burning and otherworldly touches.
A keen devourer of all things artistic and cultural, Panczak has been inspired for his latest record by the Japanese art movement, Ukiyo-e, particularly artists including Hiroshige and Hokusai. It’s a fitting influence given his music’s decidedly ‘visual’ feel, being cinematic in scope and creating pulsing soundscapes which are poignant and deeply moving while retaining a sense of playfulness. It’s these nuanced, tightly-coiled compositions – steeped in melody and melancholy – which surprise and delight equally, everywhere from the Antipodes to London and beyond.
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