Despite being a « genre » of « music » without a strong connection to extreme metal, according to David Novak, author of Japanoise, apart from some of Merzbow‘s albums being released on Relapse Records (with Pulse demon in 1996), it is not so surprising to see a noisician (noise musician) on a label mostly associated with metal, and particularly with Profound Lore whose identity as always transcended the limits of a genre, or a culture, thanks to its varied roster (from Portal to Subrosa).
Prurient on the other hand, and its sole mastermind Dominick Fernow (Vatican Shadow, Ash Pool), has maintained a certain connection with guitar based music by releasing one album, Bermuda drain, and a split with JK Flesh (Godflesh‘s Justin Broadrick techno alter ego), on HydraHead, Profound Lore’s spiritual predecessor. Now, although noise is mostly associated with Merzbow and its impenetrable wall of white noise, the « genre » itself is much more varied. Japanese artists such as Masonna, Violent Onsen Geisha or Incapacitants who have helped defined what noise was for american audiences and artists produce music where the noise is a means to an end. Similarly, the white noise in Frozen niagara falls feels like a virus slowly moving under the skin of the music. In Myth of building bridges, a soft melodie and a pulsing beats are surrounded helplessly by the deep grumbles of Fernow’s distorted vocals. Music possessed by the demons of a man rather than a man possessed by his music.
Much like the picture painted by the title of the album, the music on Frozen niagara falls is made of conflict. Peace versus aggression, tranquility versus chaos, softness versus harshness. A constant contrast between cold and touching melodies and the distorted screams made by Dominick Fernow who is as much of an instrument as the rest of the music rather than a narrator. Whenever he screams or speak, his voice disappears in the landscape, making the violence of his catharsis even more profound as it seems helpless throughout the hour and a half that the album last.
In chaos, the noisician finds a new balance, going from high pitched feedback to cloudy textures throughout what can only be described as a journey rather than a collection of songs. Nonetheless, each individual tracks are beautifully crafted and each offer a different shade of the personality of Dominick Fernow. Therefore, when each song feels like a journal entry, it’s hard to listen to the album without suffocating under the weighs of emotions.
As the album progress, the sound becomes more calmer and the screams are replaced by monologues. Ultimately, there must be calm after chaos and the album finds it fitting conclusion with soothing keyboards an acoustic melody on the last song, the beautifully dark Christ among the broken glass. Nonetheless, as softness overcomes harshness, the atmosphere remains menacing.
There is little doubt in my mind that this exceptional album will become the entry point for many fans of extreme music who always considered noise music to be conceptual garbage. More than any other noise album I have listened to, Prurient finds a complex equilibrium between conflicting textures when most can only juxtapose the two. A beautifully ugly masterpiece.