File Under: Synth, Noise, Industrial
My ears knew that it was only matter of time before my eyes eventually stumbled upon something like Prior Form and blindly decided to click ‘download’. If anything, they were surprised this didn’t come sooner as bandcamp is riddled with the whole ambient/synth/electronica genre. Riddled with it. And while I know it would be a disservice to discount the entire genre as a substanceless sound parasite masquerading as art, Prior Form’s Lost Horizon most definitely left me underwhelmed.
One thing Lost Horizon does well, however, is form a mood. Overall, it sounds like the score for a suspense scene in a basement or a lower level parking structure. Without the concrete visual, however, I quickly get bored. Prior Form sets the mood quickly, but then does practically nothing to modify it throughout the entire album. Sure, “Loss and Reclamation” adds a bouncier feel as if the scene suddenly changed to a rave for no reason, but is that justified? Is it any less suspenseful than its predecessors? The latter maybe, but the former I would strongly argue against. He only semi-succeeds with a mood shift on “Outrun,” but given the title and how the theme in the background is the same goddamn thing I’d already listened to in the first two tracks I hardly feel like handing out gold stars. What this 41 minute 6song album comes off as is a guy sitting shirtless with headphones on hitting keys and calling it ‘gnarly’ while staring at the whole process in a mirror. This isn’t music it’s a crime scene.
Look, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t ‘get’ this type of thing. I knew after the first listen I was going to have to open my mind up more for the purposes of this review. But the more and more I tried, I came to the same conclusion: this is simply a drawn out sequence of possibilities a horror film music supervisor could adapt for a semi-interesting 30 seconds of footage. Turned down in the background with dialogue it could survive even longer. The songs are unbearably long because they’re not meant to be enjoyed, just maximize potential of usage. This plays more like a demo tape of “I can do this kind of thing” and “I can do this and draw it out kinda like this” and “I’m not just into that spooky stuff, like if you’ve got a club scene, I can do that too, so take a listen and let me know if you ever want me to compose some shit for you in the future.”
If you just want to turn off your brain and go running at night or take a long drive through a tunnel maybe this would work as a sonic adrenaline boost. I could see that, particularly for the end section of “Vanity,” I could definitely see that. But that requires something of you beyond sitting down in your home and hitting play. Good music should work on its own, no assembly required. I’m not going to say there aren’t albums I prefer to run or drive along to more than others, because there definitely are, but I still get a joyful experience sitting in my kitchen with those albums in the stereo. I think Prior Form is more than an issue of personal taste. It comes down to what classifies an album. Lost Horizon lacks an arc. Lost Horizon lacks dimension. Ultimately, Lost Horizon lacks a voice.
Highlights Include: “Outrun” and “Vanity”
You can listen to Lost Horizon here.
Going on a blind date with Lost Horizon: