Brussels-based multi-instrumentalist / producer Marc Jacobs first introduced his Prairie alias to the world with 2013’s ‘I’m So In Love I Almost Forgot I Survived A Disaster’ EP, and since then he’s gone on to release his 2015 debut album, the Cormac McCarthy-inspired ‘Like A Pack Of Hounds’ on Shitkatapult.
Three years on, as its title suggests, this second album ‘After The Flash Flood’ sees Jacobs crafting vast blackened soundscapes designed to soundtrack the aftermath of the apocalypse. Centering around churning oceanic layers of post-rock guitar elements, programmed rhythms and ambient electronics, there’s a close kinship to be found here with the likes of Sunn O))) and Justin Broadrick, but Jacobs manages to continually take things off in unpredictable directions over the ten tracks collected here.
‘Flash Flood’ opens proceedings gently at first, as massed layers of distorted guitar chords swell against layers of digitally processed noise and cold, eerie synth drones. Just as things are starting to induce a hypnotic sense of droning calm though, vast beats suddenly crackle into flickering life, the background guitars roaring into an atonal crescendo that sounds wounded yet strangely triumphant as massive snares slam against what sounds like processed screaming. It’s certainly a good intro to the wrecked landscapes that follow.
‘Raindeaf’ provides the one moment of tangible human presence amongst the ruins, but in this case it’s in the form of increasing paranoid looped voices, a shouted “open the fucking door” standing out as the most audible repeated phrase as layers of guitar treatments and juddering bass chords build into a vast wall against howling distortion, suggesting the burnt remnants of one last desperate transmission before the end.
‘A Permanent War Economy’ changes the pace down, talking things off in a gentler direction that’s no less pensive as the plucked sounds of layered saz instrumentation introduces traces of Middle Eastern atmosphere into the mix, the warmth of the feathery chords counterbalanced by the chill of the droning background tones. Elsewhere, ‘Rabid Ibrahim’ drops vast crunching industrial beats and steel-edged snares against treated guitars and digitally contorted vocals that bleed into each other as overdriven bass swells threaten to suck all of the available oxygen out of the room.
’Hard Water: Cracked Ice’ meanwhile ventures out into sinister yet graceful downbeat territory as muted electronics surge like overdriven generators against sparse, echoing rhythms and brooding background chords, the entire track descending into a buzzing mass of reverb. As a soundtrack for the post-end times, ‘After The Flash Flood’ manages to be consistently inspired, with Jacobs constantly taking his epic, widescreen productions in unpredictable directions.