Review by Allie LaRoe
Prudence is the solo recording project of Tom Crandles, previously of Colours and Au.Ra. Sparked by a desire to write music steeped in self-expression and creative exploration, Prudence’s music is a window into a distinctive world where sonic waves crash and evolve. The project started in various hotel rooms around the UK and Europe, was recorded in Crandles' home studio, and has been released in partnership with Australian independent label, Endless Records.
Prudence’s dedication to pushing beyond the colorlessness of tired formulas (and instead, creating effective and dramatic arrangements) is central to this latest EP, Untitled, which delves into an aching underworld of relationships. Created out of a desire to reconnect and find a new balance after what Crandles describes as “my year in stasis,” Untitled feels, at times, almost disassembled. Parts un-ravel and re-coalesce around plaintive vocals in this collection of meandering and meaningful songs.
“Celestial” rolls in with a resonant piano intro that expands outward into an amorphous unease. This first song is gentle in its delivery but undercuts with veins of discontent. “Celestial” feels more cerebral than passionate. Its lyrics are luminescent hieroglyphics lingering briefly in the midst of melodic nebulae. Bass and piano pull you forward within winding melodic lines, and play into each other before dissolving into a shower of sparks amidst ghostly layers of vocals.
Interjecting itself into the vignette, “Chlorine” provides a short but potent instrumental recess that pulls into discordant arcs before landing. Its arid arrangement evokes a barren horizon before climaxing into a violent minor ascent that leaves the listener with a sense of lingering trepidation.
When “Better” strolls in with a coaxing harmonica, it imprints an image of tumbleweeds, sage, and far too much space. The bass holds the central position in the melody, jerking you deeper into a dust-devil of a self-aware confession. Solitude echoes in the reverb, bouncing from digital walls. “I’ve loved better,” Crandles sings into the void.
The final song, “Relief”, cuts through the fog with a plaintive guitar over industrial, distorted drums marching forward into the unknown. It’s a brief bookend, lifting the clouds only to discover more of the unknown beyond.
Untitled plays with the unexpected, building sonic landscapes that communicate as much, if not more than, the words. Its layers can, at times, distance the creator from the listener, feeling like a contemplation of emotion more than an immersive experience. Its songs continue to reveal new and previously unregistered layers the more that you listen.
Untitled pairs well with lingering existential dis-ease and staring into the void. Take the time to explore unexpected and expressive horizons with Prudence’s EP.