Photo Courtesy of Sargent House
A telling line on the fourth song of Jaye Jayle’s latest full-length, Prisyn, perfectly explains the dark and dense mood conjured by the album.
“Berlin, that’s what I’m in/I’m thinking about David/I’m thinking about Iggy,” Evan Patterson, the project’s main creative force, sings over the bassy, synthetic feel of “The River Spree,” a song that, in itself, strives to evoke the albums created by Bowie and Pop in late 70s Berlin.
Teaming up with Ben Chisholm, a frequent Chelsea Wolfe collaborator, Patterson embraces a noisy electronic style on his third album under Jaye Jayle. Regarding the album’s unique title, Patterson said in a press release that it’s a portmanteau of “synthetic prison.” “Synthetic Prison” is also the name of the record’s third track, which functions as a brief, orchestral interlude.
Patterson wrote the lion’s share of the music and lyrics that make up the nearly 40 minute of Prisyn during his time in Europe while touring with his other band, Young Widows. And, with clamoring, paranoid tracks such as “The River Spree” and “Guntime,” it’s easy to imagine the songs’ narrator walking down a sketching foreign alley or traveling alongside some ancient river in the moonlight.
Capitalizing on the music’s brooding, industrial ambience, Patterson’s lyrics capture themes of alienation, confusion, darkness and light. All of those ideas converge on the standout single “Don’t Blame the Rain,” where he sings, “I can barely think/In the right bright light/Of some mid rise town.”
The track “I Need You” is Prisyn’s lone love song. But, its passionate lyrics — “Sometimes I need you to say/You need me to say/I need you” — breathy synths and 808-like drums make it a memorable part of the album and add new textures such as a cleanly arpeggiating piano that appears toward the track’s close.
Despite having been created using GarageBand on an iPhone, the production on Prisyn is top notch. Multiple synths are layered without muddiness and the LP’s artificial drums cut through the mix without any trouble. Chisholm’s influence steers the album into a darker, denser and more electronic direction than any of Jaye Jayle’s previous releases.
Throughout the album, Patterson’s foreboding vocals often take center stage over the instrumentals, but there’s nary a moment on when something interesting isn’t happening in the background, whether it’s the discordant swells on “Making Friends,” the cavernous drums on the opener, “A Cold Wind,” or the spindly plucks on, “Last Drive,” one of the two instrumental tracks.
In the end, Prisyn is primarily a record that’s concerned with creating atmospheres that slowly build up and gain density without the use of flashy solos or big vocal hooks. It’s a well-made album that allows Patterson and Chisholm to channel their influences — most notably, Iggy Pop’s The Idiot — while exploring new sonic aesthetics and share personal experiences.
If you don’t have access to a stony, lamplit European street, then Prisyn might best be enjoyed late at night or perhaps wandering through an industrial park on an overcast day. Really, anywhere without direct sunshine.