Ever since their debut at the 2008 “Big Big Show,” Panacaea has not been shy in delivering their musical goods with passion and power. Their most recent composition, “A Small Child, A Great Ocean,” is a 23-minute glimpse of a young man’s struggle to find God.
As seen through their music, violinist Ben Cave, cellist Michael Tavani, and drummer Kenny Goss have absorbed influences from bands like Dream Theater, Apocalyptica and Sigur Rós, filtering them all through their own unique musical perspectives. The resulting sound is a true feast for the ears, as the electronically charged violin and cello mesh with Goss’ ambient percussion techniques.
Not many bands have made the rock scene using a violin and cello, but this band’s mission is not to succumb to the norm.
“We wanted to create something new . . . to delve into the heavier aspect of music and to completely do away with the modern rock band template of bass, drums and vocals,” Cave said.
Panacaea, meaning “all-healing,” represents everything but the expected. The band plays traditional instruments, but not in a traditional form. Tavani and Cave both plug their stringed instruments into a pedal board for electrified effects.
“So many bands say that they are unique, but when you look at our instrumentation, you know that we are unique,” Goss said.
They met in Huntington Hall as freshmen in 2007 and their relationship formed quickly, as did their musical reputation. The three music majors discovered their mutual passion for developing a unique rock sound using classical instruments. This genre, known as “post-rock,” uses rock instruments for non-rock purposes.
The trio began their journey playing some of Cave’s own compositions; however, their most recent repertoire is written collaboratively. In total, the group has completed seven original compositions. Each song has a story, and each instrument plays a part in telling that story.
“It’s completely a team effort,” Cave said regarding their songwriting strategies. “We build off of each other.”
Panacaea’s music is entirely instrumental and does not rely on lyrics to get the stories across. Strong themes are heard in unique forms, particularly in their latest song, “A Small Child, A Great Ocean.” The song’s story shows a young man searching for God by swimming out to sea. In the process, the waters defeat him, as represented by dissonant chords and dark instrumentation. After the severity of the scene is portrayed, the band transitions to a major key, bringing hope and life to the lost child of God.
“It’s actually quite a beast to pound out,” Cave said, referring to their 23-minute masterpiece.
The O.C. venue “Chain Reaction” hosted the group recently, as Panacaea stunned the audience with their original compositions. VU has even showcased the guys in the annual talent show, the “Big Big Show.” Upcoming performances include the “Angel City Cafe” in Bellflower, CA.