Rainbow Mirror by PrurientRelease date: December 1, 2017
Label: Hospital Productions / Profound Lore Records
Twenty years after the first ever performance by Prurient, Rainbow Mirror has been unleashed upon a largely unprepared world. It is a sprawling 3 hour compendium of improvised industrial ambience created as a three piece for the first time since that formative show. Joining Dominick Fernow (main instigator of Prurient, Vatican Shadow, and Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement among countless others) are Matt Folden (Dual Action), Jim Mroz (Lussuria), and, on mixing and production duties, the UK Techno producer, Shifted. This alliance has constructed a vast behemoth of bracing drones, thumping mechanics, and troubling squalls that is more than worthy of celebrating, not only the twentieth anniversary of that Prurient gig, but also two decades of Fernow’s label – Hospital Productions.
Lashing back against the seemingly militant notion that quick cuts, baited clicks, and a craving for instant gratification are the only methods for audience interaction, are a litany of creative types. From writers like Mark Z Danielewski (whose 27 volume book The Familiar is already gaining a cult following), to the creators of slow television which transports you aboard an eight hour train journey through Scandinavian scenery, there is clearly an appetite for long form consumption. Just look at the sold out shows for Max Richter’s Sleep performances – 8 hours of soporific neo-classical to be enjoyed whilst tucked up in bed. And now Prurient’s Rainbow Mirror: 3 hours of harsh electronics which will absolutely not help to ease your insomnia.
That might initially sound like a bit of a difficult undertaking, but the beauty here lies within the deftness of this trio’s interaction with one another. Knowing when to extend a repeated motif until absolute breaking point and then ravaging expectations with withering noise or gentle choral voices. There is a synching of their intuitions that prevents this from pitching into tedium. Instead what we get is a state of growing anxiety formed from desperate snare snaps and metallic clangs, beating back against some oppressive force and captured, on the opening track (‘Barefoot God’), as an electronic swell. This then casually disintegrates into the fugue aftermath of a dying explosion.
Metallic sounds that suggest ramshackle loft experiments pepper the start of ‘Walking On Dehydrated Coral’. Something dark gently rumbles and then violently forces its way in. Like a summoned succubus that can no longer be controlled. A lacing fear, not knowing quite what has been unleashed. The arrogance of it. Digital pulses try and warn us before being engulfed by sonic slabs the size of wildfire. There is burrowing, digging. Some kind of subterranean exploration. Like mining for hope on a bleak, distant moon.
This theme of industry and machinery continues with an audio convoy on ‘Midnight Kabar’. There are rolling dirt tanks, a fleet of jets, bubbling submarines. All the while shrill bleating from a sinister dictator shrieks them on. A voice so devoid of humanity that it is indecipherable and has been reduced to squawks and squeaks. Its intensity the only signifier as to intention. Despite this shouted havoc there is something military, something fascistic, something regimented in the disorder.
From here we plunge into ‘Chaos Sex’. A thick, viscous, clamouring wall of dark noise. Throaty clouds bespatter the scenery. Like a stifled cough pin-balling against bronchial havens. Or a night trudge through gloopy marshland. Synth claw swipes become increasingly shrill. Demanding. Like hands that close tracheas for an instant beyond pleasure. This sounds like rust’s creep sped up.
Not all of Rainbow Mirror deals with dirges however. On ‘Falling In The Water’ and on the split track ‘Buddha Strangled In Vines’ melodic mantras take centre stage. These reassure, ground, and lure us into safe spaces. Sometimes we are rewarded with comforting ambience. More often than not, the cathartic carnage that we deserve. The former of these tracks seems like a hopeful ritual is being conducted atop a mountain in the midst of a cataclysmic storm. Crackles of static swirl like nightmares. It is an end of days battle.
Admittedly a couple of the fifteen tracks aren’t quite as successful. ‘Okinawan Burial Vaults’ utilises what feels like a lazy chanted voice which has had little done to it to raise it from a recognisable preset. This is a shame considering the menace of the corrupted bass line which accompanies it. It deserved something fresher. And on ‘April Fool’s Day Aspect Sinister’ an attempt has been made to create a feeling akin to a 1970s Sci-Fi soundtrack being reversed through a tape-mangling 8 track. As if a factory for churning out cliché genre sound tropes has experienced an uprising by its robotic hirelings. Or if, in a world where algorithms design all aspects of existence, a malware-plagued programme gone haywire is wildly generating cinematic scores. All of this might imply interesting experimentation, but it doesn’t always result in compelling noise.
Unlike ‘Cruel Worlds’, which blasts straight up harsh noise like a deranged wood chipper trying to swallow a combine harvester. These are then followed by 80s synth pulses as if played by an Alzheimer’s riddled John Carpenter. The notes tripping over themselves. Confused and repetitive but lost. And then it descends into avian torture.
Something that separates this work from previous Prurient releases is the almost total lack of Fernow’s voice, which has typically ranged from anguished screech to paranoid whisper. Here, the latter seems to appear solely on ‘Naturecum’ in breathy, and distorted form. If nature is cumming, it’s because it is getting fucked. This track sounds just like that. Pneumatic drills pounding earth. Twisted, ravaged metal. The long, slow, slam of primal machinery. The clue is in Prurient’s name. Pleased chirrups hint encouragement whilst dank drones rev through gears much like the leering and the rapacious try to wear down defences. Through the oscillating buzz a voice opines. What it is saying is almost impossible to discern. Perhaps reading an obituary. Or the football scores. Whatever it might be, there is little emotion. As if retelling a story that is distant and devoid of feeling. In the end it is as if heavy, muffled breathing sees the track out. Last gasps of life. Nature’s dying orgasm.
Whilst the bellowed vocal aspect might be absent, the always present, visceral, sheer force of Prurient has not wained. This is one to crank up louder than you would normally dare. Edge yourself a little closer to the realities of Fernow’s confrontational live experience and split those ears of yours.