The illusive sound-smith that is Primer first unveiled their bewitching sound designs on Rarefied last year with the beautiful ‘Signals’ EP. The release has stayed with me to this day with it’s astrological compositions and apocalyptic soundscapes particularly with ‘Untitled‘, having left a lasting impression. Moving into 2019 and Primer has come up with another mesmerising collection of otherworldly productions. Reinforceing my opinion that, out of the many other labels, Rarefied is currently the most enticing and progressive imprint around. Its consistency in putting out bodies of work that feels like a unique project where it’s identity, sound and story seamlessly unites is awe inspiring and Primer‘s latest EP ‘Drowned‘ is the perfect example.
Primer’s latest sonic adventure begins with ‘Nowhere & Nothing‘. A lonesome woman wanders across desolate landscapes that as enchanting as it seems on the surface, there’s something quite sinister that lurks in the shadows. Following a path of meticulously crafted acoustic melodies and perfectly curated percussion that sounds fairly whimsical at first, guiding us into a false sense of security, eerie sampled vocal cuts arrive and take precedence. It’s the woman. She’s pained and she’s lost. As her haunting wails reverberate across the trance-inducing soundscape, we realise she’s calling out and running from an unknown ghoulish entity, leading into the EP’s title track ‘Drowned‘. Beginning and ending with unintelligible deep distorted voices, ‘Drowned‘ introduces us to the haunting spirits that reside in the dark corners of the land. They speak to the woman, stalking her. Watching her every move. Their presence is realised, floating through the gloomy world in the form of calm perpetual horns that echo across the melancholic soundscape, enticing her into their control. Once again the organic percussion is effortless with hard kicks, natural faint snare hits and subtle shakes and rattles, fleshing out the panicked footsteps of the distressed woman, trying to find a way out of her nightmare.
The next track ‘Tai Pt II‘ is the perfect sequel to its predecessor. Where the character remained a mystery following Pt I (from last years ‘Signals‘ EP), the second part puts the pieces together. The familiar spine tingling cries return. The woman is taken and trapped inside a swampy expanse of sonic marshland made up of unstable patterns, chiming melodies and grainy samples. Haunting cries break out in a loop throughout the track calling for help. But it’s no good, her soul has been taken for eternity by the shadows that inhabit the dystopia, developing into the most erratic track on the EP.
The journey is completed with ‘If I Had A a Far Away Dream‘, where the martyr gives into her spirit captors. In a dream like state she strolls through the underworld, presented by the beautiful whimsical melodies. She’s at peace with the spirits that can be heard from a distance, constantly looking over her shoulder. The vivid percussion and throbbing low end expresses a distinct climatic feel to the record, where woman lives on, trapped in the underworld forever.
RARE11 is another triumph to add to Rarefied‘s must cop catalogue. ‘Drowned’ EP is a beautifully creative piece of art that journeys through a multitude of emotions, with productions that can be described as both elegant and melodic yet foggy and bleak. Primer effortlessly puts a spotlight on both the dark and the lighter sides of sound design and sampling, producing these breath taking paradoxical pieces of music that I will not be forgetting for a long time.