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Prurient - Pleasure Ground

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Artist: Prurient

Album: Pleasure Ground

Label: Load

Review date: Apr. 16, 2007

Prurient, the relentless, singular power electronics project of Dominik Fernow, is a divisive proposition. His records and live shows have been criticized for their performative qualities, with critics accusing him of wallowing in ‘Prince Of Darkness’ schtick, using BDSM camp and carefully plotted pseudo-extremity as cover for simplistic noise platitude, subjecting the audience to scripted catharsis and audio ultra-violence.

That reading of Fernow’s intentions is way off-beam. While there are strong elements of liberation-through-pain in his work, Fernow is interested in the transformative powers of noise and marginality, a kind of transcendence through abreaction or abjection. Prurient harnesses the unforgiving assault of mainlined electricity to overwhelm the listener, all the while working through the moral ambivalence typical of power electronics outfits like Whitehouse, who are perhaps Prurient’s true predecessors.

Pleasure Ground reissues an ultra-limited double cassette originally released on Fernow’s own Hospital Productions label in 2006. For most of the set, Fernow jettisons the squealing arcs of microphone feedback and amp torture that have made up his lexicon, moving sideways from the emptied waveforms and face-slapping drums of 2005’s staggering Black Vase. On “Earthworks/Buried In Secret” and “Apple Tree Victim,” crackling, distorted waves of synthesizer trace sinister, repeating phrases while Fernow’s voice barks out eschatological lyrics, but “Outdoorman/Indestructible” makes the greatest formal leap, with squirming electronics and echoing metallic percussion shuffling in the distance while Fernow turns down the volume on his voice, murmuring into your ear.

Pleasure Ground is one of Fernow’s most affecting works yet, the burn and scar of distortion and feedback barely masking the dejection at the heart of these recordings, each piece a threnody for the human condition. There has been plenty of noise from the American underground lately, but Prurient’s body of work stands out as by far the most emotionally resonant and devastating.

By Jon Dale

Other Reviews of Prurient

Black Vase


Bermuda Drain

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