The most radiant gloom you’ve ever heard
Despite relentless recording sessions, not long ago it seemed like no one could keep the Prids away from Albuquerque. In 2003 and 2004, the band played here every eight or nine months. Not that anyone was complaining, mind you. In fact, bassist Mistina La Fave and guitarist/lyricist David Frederickson have cited New Mexico as one of their favorite stops due to the always warm and grateful reception they’ve gotten in the Dirt City. In 2008 a nearly fatal van accident threatened to halt the constant gigging, but the band recovered and jumped back on the road. Unlike many outfits that eventually retreat to the relative calm of the studio, it’s unimaginable to think of the Prids not touring. The only thing that trumps the band’s 10 CDs, EPs and 7-inches is its galvanizing live shows.
From Portland, the band is one of the best things to happen to amplified music since stereo. It’s easy to focus on the merit of Frederickson’s guitar and Maile Arruda’s keyboard, being prominent instruments to which we’re trained to listen. But La Fave’s bass is just as much a part of the arrangement, noteworthy as rhythm, melody and lead instrument all in one. Drummer Lee Zeman is a powerhouse but never overwhelms his bandmates. Each Prid is essential to the whole. Without one wasted sound between the four of them, they are true musicians—like an orchestra working together for maximum effect.
The music has been variously described as post-’80s, goth, new wave and no-wave, but I think of it as luxuriant four-piece sonic symphonies, the most radiant gloom you’ve ever heard. The songs are dense and layered yet flow smoothly: danceable without the overbearing thump, emotional without the emo, a snug yet supple fit like Italian kidskin gloves.
On the Velvet Blue Music label, Chronosynclastic was released last week on both CD and glorious 12-inch vinyl. Somewhat of a departure and maybe a liberation, there is a softer sound here. This takes nothing away from the music’s brooding power, but a few radio-friendly songs could expose the quartet to a wider audience—and halfway into the band’s second decade, the Prids deserve no less.
Throughout, vocals are showcased more than before to magnificent effect. “When I Look” carries a driving pop sound, tight and powerful harmonies, and Frederickson and La Fave’s incomparable imprint. Built To Spill’s Doug Martsch offers a fine contribution of jangly guitar and downy background vocals to the brooding “In The Fall.” In this new spirit of the Prids sharing its sandbox, there are also appearances from Helvetia’s Jason Albertini and singer/songwriter Chris Koza (now recording as Rogue Valley).
Returning to Burt’s Tiki Lounge—the band’s favorite New Mexico venue—expect the Prids to draw us to its dusky brilliance, like a diamond ring glinting from indirect light in an otherwise dark room.