Artist: Profit Prison
Title: Dreams of a Dark Building
Release: LP / Digital
Label: Avant! Records
Established in 2016, Profit Prison is the solo project of Seattle-based Parker Lautenschlager, previously of the hardcore band Marrow, power electronics act Anteinferno, black metallers Bhereg and currently also of death metallers Excarnated Entity.
Inspired by Franz Kafka, Profit Prison creates a cold minimalist sound on Dreams of a Dark Building, released September 11th, 2020, via Avant! Records, reflecting the nightmarish dystopia in which they were created.
Dreams of a Dark Building’s synth heavy sound may cause some to lump them in with the current crop of synthwave hype acts, like Perturbator or Carpenter Brut and while there are definitely similarities, this is a more of a restrained lo-fi affair. Without the garish neon monster aesthetics and massive EDM production of the horror-movie inspired synthwave forerunners, the use of ’70s disco Hi-NRG beats and the understated soft-focus vocals (that actually sound very similar to Placebo’s Brian Molko), make this record a more sombre, introspective listen.
Opener “Cleric” begins with the kind of forlorn sound one might come to expect from a dungeon synth/synthwave/synth.. anything group in the 2020s, but soon introduces bright melodies that wouldn’t be out of place on a Kraftwerk or even an early Depeche Mode track. Single and EP highlight “120 Days”, a song that came to Lautenschlager in a dream, with a title inspired by Sade’s exploration of the perverse nature of political power, provides the record’s wistful yet catchy centre piece.
Across the six tracks on offer, Profit Prison do somewhat remain in the same lane, without meandering too far from their core formula, which works perfectly well for the sub-30 minute duration of the piece. The beats and vocals drop out completely and let the melodies create a melancholic atmosphere during penultimate track “Her Glance Alone Invests Us in a Robe of Light”, which builds in intensity before, almost triumphant sounding closer “In This Hour Of Loss” welcomes their return, providing a comforting constant rather than anything unexpected or for that matter, unwelcome.
This is a worthwhile listen for fans of the genre or anyone who might want to try something synthy but is usually put off by the dance-floor intensity of modern synthwave. Pet Shop boys meets Placebo, in a desolate dystopia, sounds ok to me.