Novelist, graphic artist and Electronica connoisseur Wade Anderson has been a staple in Toronto, Canada’s Industrial scene for many years but may not be as well known by casual fans and non-insiders. However, his musical project Prospero has been creating strange soundscapes and pushing aural limits for quite a while now. Debuting with A Storm Is Coming EP in 2003 it was clear from the get-go that Prospero was not your typical Experimental Industrial project. The use of layered soundscapes, naturally occurring noises and oddly juxtaposed natural melodies was a year or two ahead of its time in terms of mass popularity within a whole subgenre of Ambient music that is possibly not even peaking now.
2004 saw the release of both Spreading The Infection and Fibonacci via Sub.Session.Media. The former was a massive 2-CD set that showcased collaborations with and remixes from such big names in Industrial like Displacer, Battery Cage, Xorcist and Manufactura; While the latter album was Prospero’s first solo venture that was more focused on the Ambient side of electronic layering and musical progression. Eventually signing to Artoffact Records, Prospero released Folie A Deux (The Elements and The Madness) in 2008. [As a personal side-note the album didn’t get nearly enough love and is a MUST own for anyone interested in Experimental Industrial, if only because of its use of Tribal rhythms and folksy melodies matched with hardcore Industrial wasteland noises and the vicious guest turns by Ayria, Battery Cage and Terrorfakt.] This second album showed a unique blending of ancient musical instrumentation and basic melody with a deep cadre of post-Industrial pad work.
On February 8th 2011, Prospero returns once again on Artoffact Records with Turning Point. This third full-length album is again unlike anything he has put out before and may live up to its billing as a front-runner for most innovative album of the year. Unlike other bands of this style, Prospero focuses heavily on actual music and organic sound-clips rather than a standardized prefabricated format. I cannot accurately describe the difference except to say the whole project feels more alive with coherency and therefore has stronger appeal as an intricate listening experience. Tracks that stand out to me may not stand out to others and vice versa because each track is a completely different world than the last. For the thinking listener there is something for you here, guaranteed.
“Taiko’s Prophet” combines Oriental-inspired string harmonies with bass-heavy thudding drums and a constantly shifting rhythm scheme that makes this an instant classic that begs to be used in a Hollywood film. “Fallen Angel” and “Hunter” show off some interesting Punk Rock guitar riffs that give the airy ambience and somewhat flat synth work underneath a very dirty Industrial feeling, while “Louisiana Voodoo” creates a very fog-like nature with the gritty beats and squealing guitar that make it feel like a swampy nightmare. Every single track gets more complex and more bizarre the longer and more often you listen to it. Also of note is “(introduction to my) Discipline,” a re-worked instrumental prequel to Ayria’s guest track “Discipline” off Folie A Deux.
Besides the outstanding new tracks, the other aspects to this album are the remixes. The infamous (and thought to be defunct!) Industrial powerhouse Xorcist takes the title track and constructs eight-and-a-half minutes of pure Electronic Hell from the point of view of Artificial Intelligence. “Turning Point (Xorcist Remix)” fuses experimental Industrial, Powernoise, pure Ambient, soaring Melodic Rock, and futuristic IDM to create something extremely movie-like and is by far and away my favorite track on this album. The only thing that bothers me is it is probably too long for most underground radio but is too brilliant to be edited in any fair measure. Another native Toronto band also makes a memorable impression with “Extinct (Mara’s Torment Remix),” a bubbling, seething Terror track that easily could be used in a horror movie of some kind more for its creepy subtleness and perceived ambience. They set the sounds and the listener fills in the gaps in their own imagination. The album closes out with “Fallen Angel (Guidestone Remix),” which is a much more Metal-tinged version of the original.
The whole album could be summed up with one sentiment: Guitar work. Added to the already intricate ambiance that Prospero is known for there is more emphasis added to guitar chords and simple but effective riffs. Every track has been crafted in such a way that the guitars actually feel more like alien sounds and less like an instrument. The only other artist I can think of that sounds remotely like what Prospero is doing here is Andy Summers, which is high praise indeed for any Electronica project. Prospero has a solid sound that certainly deserves more exposure and the album should be the Turning Point in his popularity. Preorder this now if you need something awesome to listen to this winter and beyond.
Must have tracks: “Taiko’s Prophet,” “Hunter,” “Louisiana Voodoo,” “Growth And Decay,” “Taiko’s Prophet (Fractured Remix),” “Turning Point (Xorcist Remix),” “Extinct (Mara’s Torment Remix),” “Fallen Angel (Guidestone Remix).”
For fans of: ESA, Totakeke, Negative Format, Sebastian Komor, Juno Reactor, Architect, PAL, Empty, Stendeck, Access To Arasaka.