Proem: A Permanent Solution

With the Miami imprint Merck shutting down, it's good to find the ever-reliable Proem comfortably ensconced at n5MD. Richard Bailey doesn't dramatically deviate from his familiar template on the sixth Proem album, A Permanent Solution, but fans of his particular brand of non-abrasive, melodic electronica won't mind.

Generally speaking, the new album presents fifty-four minutes of crunchy beats, burbling bass lines, and gleaming keyboard melodies. Occasionally tracks take a funkier turn (“Secret Knots”) but never so dominatingly that the focus shifts from the material's glistening character. In addition, there's sparkling techno (“Sputterfly”), plus hip-hop beats give “Dual Carrier” a snappy thrust. Bailey enhances his material with subtle injections of instrumental colour (a marimba or harp occasionally surfaces) and uses a rich, reverberant production style that gives the songs a lush, at times cathedralesque character. That's especially audible during the album's final third when the material migrates into dramatic, even symphonic territory. He first gets out the heavier artillery for “Wall of Knives 2” before moving on to “Deepmagix” which exudes the mystery of a newly-discovered subterranean cave. The dramatic ante is upped even more in the closing songs, “Give It Back,” a beatless meditation of interweaving flutes and pianos, and “Social Pirhana,” which couches dramatic piano flurries in punctuating echo.

July 2007