Prostitutes‘ second LP is “Subtle but never underwhelming” says Ian Maleney.
When critics find a resonance appearance across different genres and in different places, the jump to draw links and join the dots is often overshot. While there is indeed much going on at the moment that blurs the lines between house, techno and noise, it would be unfair to see the artists involved in this as one globular entity. If one is to concentrate on the sound alone, very few of the most often name-checked artists actually sound all that much alike. Container sounds nothing like Pete Swanson but they are often mentioned in the same breath. While the comparison is not unwarranted in terms of their distinct aims or ideas, the actual forms those ideas take are completely different and these personal aesthetics sometimes get lost in the general feeling of something new happening.
James Donadio’s Prostitutes project is perhaps indicative of this and Crushed Interior is the best example to date of just how different he is. The techno links are present here but not overly pronounced. Rhythm is key but it is rarely, if ever, dance-floor ready. The closest we come here is probably ‘Dial Tone Degradation’, a rattling, bouncing track that still refuses to slip into a comfortable rhythm at any stage. Loops clash as they flit in and out of the mix, filling up with sub bass or whirring noise only only to drop back to just those cantankerous drums without a moment’s notice. The tension builds until the centre cannot hold any more and it all begins to fall apart over the last two minutes.
The track that follows, ‘Through Their Hungry Lips’ is more representative of the album as a whole. One bubbling synth plays over and over again by itself, eventually becoming affected by an almost chirpy African rhythm that similarly repeats. With such minimal music, you end up focusing on the tiny changes, the addition of an echo here or the dropping of a frequency there. It sucks you in. ‘Spiders In My Eyelids’ is the nadir in terms of propulsive energy, built on a single pulsing synth chord, menacingly droning through the few other sounds that dare to come near it. This is closer to the solo of work of Wolf Eyes members like Nate Young or Aaron Dilloway, a dank piece of minimal claustrophobia.
‘Make A Hole’ is almost pleasant listening in comparison to the other tracks, it’s dusty lead vibrato eventually merging with the distant floating pad while a Board Of Canada style beat appears for a short while. It leads into closing track ‘Jungle Wine’, a rival for the dubious title of most danceable track on show. Home to an almost ironically simple and consistent rhythm, it even uses a straight-up kick-hat pattern in places. It all feels distant though, until the scene is taken over by the bright synth stabs. It’s an unexpected ending, the opposite of dank.
Crushed Interior has an occasional and always tangential relationship to techno, hitting hard in some places but restrained to the point of madness in others. This constant tension, the hinting, the thoughts of what might be, are almost enough to overshadow the careful attention to detail and texture that actually is happening. Subtle but never underwhelming, Crushed Interior is out on its own.