Panurge was born of the musical experiments of Daniel Byrne, Chris Lovell, and Jon Schubert in the summer of 2000.
Schubert and Lovell met some years earlier and had quickly discovered a common love of late-Sixties pop and folk music. While fast to become friends, the two did not begin working together musically until many years later. It was not until the late 1990â€™s when Schubert and Lovell decided to start their musical friendship in earnest.
Panurge The pair met Byrne through mutual friends, and the three worked together in larger collaborations and varying formations until the spring of 2000, when it looked as if the trio were all about to head their separate ways. It was then, on a whim, that the three of them ended up working exclusively together on a song. The song, entitled Listen to Your Own, would eventually prove the catalyst to the formation of Panurge. A focused fusion of pop songwriting and electronic production, Listen to Your Own quickly began to garner the band considerable praise and was included on a compilation which would later become the Nettwerk / Nutone release Critical Bandwidth.
Meanwhile, the three collaborators had dispersed and gone on to other things. With Byrne in Ireland, Lovell in Calgary and Schubert in Vancouver, the prospects of Panurge coming into existence seemed unlikely at best, and yet it was in this geographical arrangement whence came the trioâ€™s decision to dedicate themselves to a new musical collaboration. Byrne returned to Vancouver and worked together with Schubert, while Lovell literally mailed in his input from Calgary until he, too, could return to Vancouver.
The groupâ€™s independently produced and released debut, Erectangle (2001), is a reflection of this strange geographical agreement; written and recorded in pieces and across great distances, the album has a patch-work style that is well-suited to its genre-bending content.
With the release of Erectangle, doors seemed to open for the band; Panurgeâ€™s unique sound, widespread critical praise and live performances on national radio caught the attention of music listeners in Canada and abroad. It was around this time that the trio met C.L. McLaughlin, who has since become a valued performer both with Panurgeâ€™s live act and also on recent recordings.
In early 2003, the band signed with Nettwerk and began recording Throw Down the Reins (2004). The album captures the essence of experimentation found in their previous work, yet integrates this in subtler ways. Continuing their endeavors to bridge the imagined distances between musical styles, Panurge utilizes a wide variety of instrumentation on the album, from analog synthesizers to wooden vibes, acoustic guitars and vintage drum machines. The resulting sound is new, yet familiar.
The band also uses different environments and techniques for recording; while most of Throw Down the Reins was recorded in a studio, parts of the album were recorded in basements, faraway houses and nearby forests. To Panurge, the process of making music is inseparable from the results, and experimentation is an integral part of the songwriting process.
While the album is largely driven by this spirit of experimentation, the music strives to be very accessible. Regardless of how they are dressed, these are definitely pop songsâ€”full of hooks and harmonies, big beats and jangling guitars. The songs are populated by human characters doing very human things: loving, striving, losing. In this sense, Throw Down the Reins balances the traditional and the experimental.
In fact, it is probably safe to say that this balance is the defining feature of the album. That is, for all of the twists and turns of sound and structure, one always gets the sense that Panurgeâ€™s music, in all of its aspects, is seeking to find a point of balance.