Review Summary: Where lightness meets the darkness
The opening line of Jaye Jayle’s Prisyn
is a statement of ambiguity: “Where darkness meets the lightness / Or rather the lightness meets the darkness.” On its surface it appears to be a muddled sentiment, but Evan Patterson’s emphasis on the second line insists upon a decaying promise rather than a surging hope. It’s an appropriate overture for Prisyn
, which qualifies as a tense urban dystopia writhing in paranoia. Patterson plunges us into this scene through several disturbing portraits: wandering through Berlin late at night whilst looking for an elusive hotel, a taxi driver who takes hostages at 3am because “he knows too much to let me go”, kids pointing guns at people through open car windows in Paris…they’re these terrifying, presumably fictitious stories that clearly could
be real based on the violent times that we live in. Prisyn
captures that essence in the fog, under dim street lamps – a sobering and unsettling experience.
Patterson achieves such a mysterious and haunting atmosphere through an eclectic blend of gothic, psychedelic, electronic, and experimental tones. ‘A Cold Wind’ sets the scene early with a spacious, disturbing crooner whose ending strings catalyze ‘Don’t Blame The Rain’, replete with convulsing synths and schizophrenic callback vocals. The eerie percussion, wailing synths, and hazy feedback on ‘I Need You’ leaves you in a harrowing emotional space, while ‘The River Spree’ acts as the album’s epicenter – commencing as a slow burner before exploding into fiery reverb without warning. The hues aren’t entirely bleak, however – a flourish of strings threaten to lift Prisyn
out of the darkness on ‘Making Friends’, although the song’s subject matter keeps it grounded. Patterson also frequently injects dry wit into the record, almost as a form of involuntary deflection – such as wryly titling an account of kidnapping as ‘Making Friends’, or the way he uses having a gun pointed at him as an opportunity to turn a phrase: “This kind of thing happens all of the time. They’re just kids having a guntime.” His sense of humor adds a certain twistedness to the whole experience, further serving Prisyn
’s mission statement. It could be perceived as lightness meeting the darkness, or vice versa, but either way it’s clear which side has the upper hand.
Jaye Jayle’s latest album is an absolute downer. It stalks and it sulks. It revels in the mundanity of mankind while also highlighting its violent tendencies. The music ranges from airy and depressing to blistering and frightening; and there’s rarely much space in between. Its spastic, dissonant experimentalism falls a tad shy of recalling Daughters, while the gothic/post-punk influences seem to invite comparisons to Nick Cave. We may need more time to determine where Jaye Jayle falls on the spectrum of dark and depressing 80s-tinged rock, but Prisyn
will immediately step in as one of the best – and most befitting – post-apocalyptic records of 2020.