Prurient – Casablanca Flamethrower 2xLP Tesco Organsation 2020
As Dominick Fernow’s main project, Prurient is somewhat of a sonic chameleon which has explored a myriad of underground noise and industrial styles over a huge number of releases and span of years. While Prurient have also had a close association with Tesco Organisation for some time, Casablanca Flamethrower is the formal debut album for Tesco given other releases to date have been reissues on Tesco’s sub-labels. To quickly mention those reissues*, each were within an industrial/power electronic/heavy electronics frame of reference, therefore closely aligned with the Tesco’s prevailing style and sound. In a similar context Casablanca Flamethrower follows suit and is very much a Prurient album, and with its broader thematic focus on the hidden stories and forgotten victims of war, it definitely feels at home on Tesco.
In terms of the arc of Prurient’s main/core albums, Casablanca Flamethrower follows the massive seven LP Rainbow Mirror (self-described as ‘doom electronics’). Casablanca Flamethrower is notable by the fact that although not too far removed from the sprawling and mellow tone of Rainbow Mirror set, that sound has also been repurposed with a focused attention on a European heavy electronics/industrial sound. This may then be partially explained by the involvement of Kris Lapke of Alberich (who is credited as providing loops, percussion and synths), whose own project takes clear influence from a European heavy electronics sound, which has perhaps further cemented the sound and direction of Casablanca Flamethrower.
Black Iceberg open the album with a squelching bass throb, distant scrap metal tones and angst-ridden rasped vocals, while Peace and Bread Humiliation is a short track of hollow radio scanning static, whistling noise and semi-buried radio broadcast announcements. The following D-Day Rape is then an early album highlight, featuring bulldozing bass, mid-toned insectile noise squalls, while the spoken vocals are featured upfront but rendered undecipherable due to the treatment with an off-kilter warbling effected. Marvelous stuff. Fucked By Traces maintains momentum with static squalls, thick bass drones, vague rhythmic backing and charred echo chamber vocal barrage. Beneath The Wheels of the Black Raven is also an excellent track of stalking menace, where the tone is one of militaristic death industrial involving droning bass, slow shuddering rhythm, and vocals delivered as agonized chants and treated spoken fragments. Late album track The Thrust of the Spear is another highlight. Opening as a low droning and treated vocal piece it soon evolves into a minimalist yet highly hypnotic track of militaristic tinged rhythmic loops and swirling rotor blades. The track title then obviously then cross references the collage image of the Spear of Longinus shown on the back cover (contributed by The Grey Wolves). Yet when the spear collage is considered in context of the adjacent phrase: ‘the risen Christ holds the spear of destiny in his side’, it shrouds the intended meaning, which is at least consistent with Dominick’s established approach to abstracted thematic presentation. Sphere From Christ’s Side also uses similar militaristic rhythmic loops for brooding result, while the close to ten minute Directionless World rounds out the album in subdued fashion with minimalist tonal rumbles and radio scanning static (but perhaps could have been half as long without foregoing ideas or loosing impact).
From my own perspective Casablanca Flamethrower is an an intense yet brooding take on a heavy electronics/industrial sound, and is inherently more listenable, engaging and digestible than the sprawling Rainbow Mirror set. Yet even so, not all tracks reach the same peak level as the album’s standouts, meaning if it were paired down to a single rather than double LP, it would have increased immediacy and impact, and duly elevated the album from being good to great. Regardless, that is really quite a minor observation and is hardly a reason to not seek out this album, which is stunningly presented in a full colour gate-fold sleeve.
* – 2015’s Annihilationist CD on Functional Organisation and 2014’s Palm Tree Corpse LP and Despiritualized 10”ep on Tesco Archaic Documents.