Marc Jacobs pulled the title of his third disc After the Flash Flood from a similarly titled photograph by Joel Sternfeld. It’s an American desert landscape shot, one in which a house and car appear moments from slipping through a sinkhole that has already swallowed another vehicle.
“The perfect framing and angle of the picture, the colours, the layerings, a certain coldness,” explains Jacobs in an interview with Inverted Audio’s Baptiste Girou. “I immediately made a connection with what inspires my music: the beauty in the violence of nature and its impact on mankind.”
This brutally dazzling new album is the third piece of a trilogy that began in 2012 with I’m So In Love I Almost Forgot I Survived A Disaster. Part two followed three years later with Like a Pack of Hounds.
Prairie’s standard choice of instruments differs from what we’re used to from similarly noisy recordings. Jacobs puts his electric guitar to good (loud) use, along with effects pedals and a Hohner Orgaphon organ amp that dates back to 1963. He pushes a Yamaha synth and drum machine through the same amp. Then he takes the entire shuddering, chaotic mess and recuts it in post-production.
The result is a uniquely musical take on ambient noise that owes as much to European metal as it does electronics. After the Flash Flood is brutalist architecture come to life. It is that sickening sensation (captured in Sternfeld’s arresting photo) that someone’s world is about to end.
And somehow, it is beautiful. Every single idea – small and large – presented in these 10 tracks works. The quietly unassuming introduction to “Flash Flood,” the distorted spoken word recordings on “Raindeaf,” the melodic guitar performance set against a gently rising din on “A Permanent War Economy,” they are all part of what makes this an extraordinary LP. Jacobs’ execution is flawless.