For those tracking Noah Anthony's work over the last half-dozen years, his debut full-length under new moniker Profligate will at first blush sound like a radical break with the past. And it is in many respects. The silky blend of minimal wave, dark techno and DIY electronics is not only galaxies removed from the psychedelic brutalism of his former outfit Social Junk, but the analog drone-n-scrape he crafted under previous alias Night Burger as well. Nevertheless, repeated spins definitely reveal a more complex relationship; the two-years-in-the-making Come Follow Me doesn't represent a rejection of the Philadelphia musician's past so much as an evolutionary leap in artistry made possible by it. In this regard, Anthony's transformation from noise renegade to avant-pop composer echoes that of Throbbing Gristle and D.A.F., both of whom allowed the raw experimentalism of their earliest releases to enrich the groups' subsequent forays into industrialized synth pop (20 Jazz Funk Greats and the tough-as-nails Alles Ist Gut, respectively).
The first quality that really jumps out is the album's phantasmagoric sense of flow. Though each side consists of three discrete tracks, on both they slyly bleed into one another so as to form a pair of shadowy labyrinths. It's a distinctive style of programming the artist honed back when he primarily released cassettes (see Night Burger's What Happens Next? and Burnin' Fast—key transitional titles). Anthony isn't alone in this department: it's an aesthetic that's been refined to an exceptionally high degree in the American noise/drone tape scene from which he's emerged. Why such collective innovation has occurred in recent years can be attributed in part to the medium's search/scan function, which is so damn clunky it naturally coerces devotees (musicians and fans alike) to adopt listening habits that are sequential and continuous rather than random and track-specific. Simply press play and enjoy the ride, in other words.
Side A opens with the ridiculously infectious "Vixen," an unequivocal declaration of intent. It's also the album's most club-oriented moment. Rocking hyper-crisp handclaps, boiler room ambiance and Anthony's softly eerie baritone, it plays out like the reckless little brother to Motor's recent Man Made Machine 12-inch. From here the proceedings turn increasingly sinister. Claustrophobic, too. The densely layered "Suppression" takes over with an auto-Bo Diddley throb lurching through stagnant puddles of oil. Anthony goes for maximum bummer vibes on this one; awash in warped effects, he mutters over and over, "Empty your pockets / I'm full of shit / I'm pacing the streets / Suppression." This then dissolves into "Barrier Earth," a race to the finish line fueled by searing technoise propulsion. The agit-funk bassline (anchoring a chorus of microscopic squiggles, sirens and atmospheric pressure drops) is downright nasty.
The journey taken on the flip feels, in contrast, significantly less visceral, as the album's overall mood falls into deep melancholy. Yet inside this melancholy lurks a beauty that's black as tar, particularly on lead track "Against the Wall," which filters the romantic fatalism unique to vintage Suicide balladry ("Cheree," "Girl") through modern hauntological zone-out. This latter quality is carried over to the instrumental "Triumph"; a compacted nugget of finely etched textures featuring a Muslimgauze-like skitter that eventually plays undertow to twin-synth arpeggios coiling around one another like serpents (this is just lovely to witness unfold). The side closes out in fitting style: "Faint Image of Myself." Particularly moving is the tug-and-pull between the gut-bashing kick drum and Anthony's disembodied mantra on alienation and self-doubt ("Nothing is real in this world / You promise me"). These competing qualities eventually unite under a cathartic deluge of staccato strings and shimmering chords that, like the rest of Come Follow Me, is as potent emotionally as it is musically.
Tracklist: Profligate - Come Follow MeSide A:
03. Barrier Earth
04. Against the Wall
06. Faint Image of Myself
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