Pitch Black Prism: something dark and abysmal, but also full of light and vivid possibilities.
This 13-song gem is Alias’ first full-length in three years, a follow-up to 2011’s Fever Dream. Equal parts instrumental electronica and experimental hip-hop, Pitch Black Prism is unlike anything else in 2014; it is a fine addition to the discography of one of Anticon’s founding members.
While the album cover looks like something that would go on the wall of a freshman dorm room and is certainly fitting for a teenager’s study session, the project is also likely to be found in the car of a tattooed dropout, cruising into midnight with cigarette breath and unique desires.
As its website describes, Pitch Black Prism is “an alternately bleak and beautiful album built for headphones and hailstorms.” Of the songs in line with that succinct label on the project, “Amber Revisions” is perhaps the bleakest of them all, like being thrown down an unknowing alleyway and finding a rusty pair of headphones.
The album features songs with mentions of onyx, amethyst, sapphire, gold, amber, and crimson. So while it is left in the clouds at times (“Gold cLOUDDEAD Skiez”), a large portion of this project is in a cave, hiding from the world yet enjoying the company of shining gems and colors. It’s raining in Alias’ Maine residence, but it’s raining colors, droplets of shimmering expression that bring to mind Skittles commercials without the manufactured sheen of positivity.
While the majority of the LP is comprised of seamless crashing, knocking instrumentals, two guests stop by: Doseone for an animated, Gorillaz-esque freeverse (“Crimson Across”) and a chopped and energized Therese Workman sounding more like a sample (“Indiiggo”).
Pitch Black Prism isn’t an everyday album, far away from the summery vibes of the past few months. But it is something to keep in the chamber for the inevitable snowfall of winter, when the world (hopefully briefly) turns out of your favor, leaving you to brace your own negativity and draw from temporary escapes—like this album— to bounce away the stress.
“Vallejo’s Sapphire Views” is the most hip-hop—and accessible—track on the project. It is full of bass and trickling synths, begging to be rapped over. Yet the star track on the project comes later, when the wonderful closer, “Aikotune,” kicks off; the record plays like the end credits to an anime film. It is the most uplifting and light-hearted track on the project. A reminder that the sun still shines during the day.
The transitioning and mixing is top notch and worthy of infinite back pats and while most of the songs work well on their own, this is something meant to be played all the way through. Like how David Lynch doesn’t have “scene selections” on his DVD menus, Pitch Black Prism shouldn’t have a tracklisting, and should instead be one long mp3: a 40 minute cavern dream full of lightning and charged rocks, glowing brighter the harder you smash your head along to the tunes.
4 out of 5
You can purchase Pitch Black Prism on Amazon.