Sunday, August 5, 2012

August 5: Prick, "Animal"

Artist: Prick
Song: "Animal"
Album: Prick
Year: 1995

Though it has been discussed in many different ways over the years, there is simply no getting past the fact that the early 1990's remain one of the most unique periods in music history when it comes to the massive range in musical styles and sounds that the "buying public" were willing to accept.  The era saw everything from "gangsta" rap to heavy metal to outright indescribable sounds making their way to the top of the charts, proving that the general public had no problem in a non-homogeneous musical mainstream.  Though there were a number of wonderfully distinctive bands to rise from this era, some of the most fascinating came from the still developing "industrial" scene, as the changes in technology were allowing innovation and exploration into these areas like never before.  At the same time, it was within this somewhat smaller community of musicians where one can find a "team" effort unlike any other genre, and it is largely due to this reality that the concentration of "superb" records from this time period is so high.  Among the many acts to bring a distinctive and unforgettable take on the industrial sound was the group Prick, which was in reality the brain-child of Kevin McMahon, and the 1995 self-titled album put out under the group's name stands as one of the most intriguing of the era.  While the entire album is well worth hearing, there may be no better representation of the group or era than Prick's 1995 single, "Animal."

It is no secret that much of the reason the album has such a fantastic sound and mood is due to the fact that the producer was none other than Trent Reznor, and there may be no other figure in the history of the genre that has been as vital as his work and presence over the years.  Yet at the same time, due to Reznor's work, as well as the style and approach of Kevin McMahon, the songs never seem like a copy or knock off of any other group.  Almost from the instant that "Animal" begins, there is a raw, almost primal feel to the song that is very fitting of such a name.  The tone of the guitar in the opening stages of the song has a mysterious feel that is nothing short of phenomenal, and it is the way that the simple bassline injects an almost looming groove to the song.  It is the bounce of the bass, and the fact that there is a strangely "pop" tone to the track that sets it far apart from most other industrial work, and yet the raw, dark, gritty sound that defines the genre is just as present.  As "Animal" progresses, the overall intensity builds and builds to a rarely achieved level, and it is the moment when all of the tension is released where the true power of Prick is revealed.  After the tension has been broken, the more traditional sounds of the industrial genre are firmly intact, and yet the power and overall tone that one can experience here is unlike anything else under the name, as their blend of live and electronic instrumentation is nothing short of perfect.

At the same time, while the orchestrations all across "Animal" are truly exceptional, the element that vaults the track to greatness is the voice and overall vocal style of Kevin McMahon.  It is the fact that he needs no vocal modulation or manipulation to create an almost evil, truly menacing tone to his voice, and  it provides a balance and completion to the song that once heard, can never be forgotten.  Yet it is also within McMahon's vocal performance where the songs' title becomes most obvious, as there is a raw, almost ferral sound to his voice at times, exemplifying the animalistic tones of the track.  At some points on the song, it sounds as if McMahon has become completely unhinged, giving himself completely to the energy of the song; and it is during these moments where the true magic and genius of the track reside.  All across "Animal," the vocals seem to almost "dance" with the bassline, and it is the interplay between these two elements that yields such a phenomenal final product.  However, one also cannot overlook the lyrics to "Animal," as they provide the ideal finishing touch to the track, and one can read into these words in a number of different ways.  While the most obvious reading of the words is one of carnal and primal desires, once one steps back, a number of deeper and slightly hidden themes can be heard as well, proving that there was far more to this track than one might see at face value.

Strangely enough, most are unaware that McMahon had actually been making music for well over a decade by the time he formed Prick, having spent many years fronting the band Lucky Pierre.  It was due to these previous releases and work as a musician that allowed the debut release from Prick to sound so complete and powerful, though there was also a clear chemistry between him and Reznor.  It is the fact that there McMahon seems to take on an entirely new persona across the album that makes the record so significant, and anyone who follows the industrial genre will undoubtably see a strong connection fron McMahon's approach here to that done nearly five years later by Marilyn Manson on his Mechanical Animals record.  But regardless of what came later, "Animal" offered a strangely more accessible path into the world of industrial music, as the groove and overall sound found on the track manage to strike a perfect balance between the world of heavy metal and industrial music in a manner that has rarely been accomplished.  Furthermore, "Animal" has a longevity that is far beyond that of other similar albums released during the era, as McMahon's distinctive blend of sounds and styles remains just as fresh and powerful today as it was nearly twenty years ago.  Taking all of these realities into account, there has simply never been another track quite like Prick's classic 1995 song, "Animal."

No comments: