Hospital Productions founder Dominick Fernow (aka Prurient) is so prolific that some of his records have naturally gone awry. But while his latest effort is noisy, it’s no abstract experiment. Fernow’s most eclectic recording to date, Bermuda Drain manipulates the listener so effectively that it’s impossible to acclimatize or escape. From the first harrowing caw of album opener “Many Jewels Surround the Crown,” it’s clear that Fernow isn’t here to toy with your emotions; he wants to stretch them to their very end.
Couched in sound collages, spoken word and strange, haunting synth lines, Bermuda Drains offers extremes on all ends. At times, Fernow’s sparse electronic atmospheres and steady intonations are so staid it’s as if you’re blinking in and out of consciousness. Other times, sometimes within the space of a single song, violence erupts unexpectedly. The stark electronic atmosphere of the title track initially washes like warm water, until the calm is shattered by a series of terrifying tones. On songs like “Let’s Make a Slave,” cracked keys and effects are so judiciously employed that they take on an almost ancient ambience — call it anarcho harpsichord music for an unholy age. At other times, the words are inescapable: The lyrics to “Palm Tree Corpse” (“If I could, I would take a tree branch, and ram it inside you”) are especially unsettling.
No escape; no easy way out. Long after it’s over, the buzzing, static whips are still leaving marks worthy of any messiah.