Prurient: Pleasure Ground
Load Records (2007)
There aren’t many artists out there whose music juggles violence and frailty so well. It’s almost a contradiction to think that something can be brutal enough to peel off your face but precariously positioned to shatter at any time, and yet Dominick Fernow’s harrowed screams and buckled electronics do exactly this. Prurient exists somewhere entirely of his own; equal parts Black Metal ethos, soothing drone, Industrial clank and harsh fucking noise.
Pleasure Ground is made up of four 10-minute pieces; kicking off with stabbing dissonance and subtly mutating towards a finale of release.
Opener Military Road starts out with piercing feedback and then limps along on a hollowed out pulse that sounds like machine gun fire slowed down and drugged. Fernow’s lung tearing howls float around until a bowel loosening bass frequency swirls everything up into a thick gelatinous mess.
Earthworks/Buried in Secret picks up and massages this low end into a descending drone, distorted and repetitive like a mantra. As you begin to zone out the ‘tune’ shifts up numerous octaves into a cheesy Black Metal synth line. Fernow starts puking his guts up again as thumping kick drums reverberate in the background. Occasionally a snare drum snaps up your attention and eventually all the elements start bubbling away in unison, a wall of aching, beautiful but ugly sound. Possibly my favourite Prurient track yet.
Things take a detour from here. Outdoorsman/Indestructible is based on a barely audible bass sine (think menacing late seventies horror movie soundtrack) and a trickle of wobbly keys. Cymbals clang here and there, mutedly, and the vocals take on the guise of an apathetic spoken word performance.
Volume returns for the final number, Apple Tree Victim, where a distorted melody endlessly repeats while Fernow gets back to sandpapering his vocal cords. The effect is nowhere near as intense as the opening tracks; in fact it’s almost pretty. Without the screams you could be lulled into a daydream, albeit something that involves long-nailed creatures hiding under your bed.
What I love about this record (along with Rose Pillar) compared to what I’ve heard of his other work so far (which is all pretty fucking amazing) is that here Prurient manages to take you on a journey. Pleasure Ground has a strong character arc and when you reach the end of this record, you’re never the person you were when it started.