There’s more than a little of the comic-book character to Dominick Fernow, the diminutive wild man who performs as Prurient. In all black, seemingly wearing glasses even when he isn’t, he fades into the background until he doesn’t: The shirt comes off, amps rise haltingly and groan, a stomach-twisted howl whips up out of the ether. Fernow disappears; Prurient has arrived.
Prurient’s past fixations, as on last year’s Black Vase, were with end-times, sex, and death. A year later, Pleasure Ground depicts a mad prophet both in that dark space and at a new beginning—the flood, but also after. So though “Military Road” is all screams poised against gusts of thunderous scree, Prurient’s now interested in mercy as well: “Earthworks/Buried in Secret” laps like a glassy storm wave remnant. Fernow’s split personality has never been so painfully obvious nor so achingly beautiful. His desperate pleas bleed out over granular ropes of pure color and light—a near perfect dissonance, the promise of eventual sanity lying uneasily beside the reality of none today.