Dominick Fernow has been releasing powerful, confrontational and hugely influential experimental electronica for well over a decade, but he drew a halt to his more overtly corrosive procedures with 2011’s Bermuda Drain. Gone was much of the noise-laden abrasiveness and belligerence of his past work, replaced instead by the subtle use of picturesque and melodic textures. Bermuda Drain was a shocking release, but for entirely different reasons than his previous work was. It was a courageous move—one that undoubtedly risked isolating Fernow from his audience—but one that was clearly essential to his progression as an artist.
Time’s Arrow, the new EP from Prurient, continues in a similar transformative vein—at least it does initially. Further developing his newfound persona, Fernow strides even further into the realms of accessibility and lucidity on the first two tracks, before taking a paradoxical step backwards, settling into familiar, albeit less blatantly harsh, territory.
The EP’s first two tracks, “Time’s Arrow” and “Time’s Arrow (Unsolved)”, both throb with a gorgeous vintage synth melody that could have easily been plucked from a John Carpenter soundtrack, over which is laid an eloquent, haunting narrative. Both tracks are unquestionably superb, highlighting Fernow’s confidence in infusing some icy tranquility into his work.
However, the next two tracks, “Let’s make a Slave (de-shelled)” and “Maskless Face”, are replete with those discordant, unsympathetic and acidic elements that defined Prurient’s earlier releases. Layered with static, squealing feedback and torturous howls—all set against a hazy backdrop of industrial percussion—they are an unmistakable reminder of Prurient’s past. This of course may be sweet relief to fans of his previous work, and they’ll no doubt be in raptures with the final buzzing instrumental, “Slavery in the Bahamas”, but it does lend a sense of incongruity to the EP. Not to suggest those final three tracks are uninteresting or lackluster—Fernow has never recorded a dull track in his career thus far—but it would have been a delicious prospect to see Prurient take further steps towards the darkly (pop) side.