Reviewed: Leiras – A Prison Of Predictions [OWN011]

Words on contemporary releases. Seeking to offer an honest description of works which manage to exist in their own space and time.

Leiras – A Prison of Predictions – Ownlife [2017]


Reviewed by Nicholas Coombs

Expansive, unforgiving and frenetic, Leiras‘ debut album A Prison Of Predictions (released on his own imprint Ownlife) is a work of sheer audacity. The Berlin-based artist’s latest work is an assemblage of 11 lurid tracks that twist and turn around your ears. The music begins in more foreboding territories yet quickly descends into an unrelenting attack on the senses, leaving the listener stranded and left to their own devices.

Self-described as “cyclical techno”, the album is a rich tapestry of intricate sounds, often submerged in layers of reverb and delay that magnify the well-crafted songs to daunting heights. Much-like the iconic Sandwell District label, the music keeps you in a perpetual state of awe, as though the listener is a mere mortal in the presence of gods. Albino Species, the opening track, is an ambient introduction to this peculiar world – warm and gentle, it contrasts greatly to the gargantuan beasts that lie ahead.

The beacon-like calls on Orion Sentinel, the industrious 33 Degree and the bleep-infused Communication Skills pull you in different directions, each entrancing you with their hypnotic calls to worlds that lie beyond. The artwork reflects the alien landscapes the music evokes – an audience abandoned into new and unexplored territories who venture into a deep unknown. It’s rare that an album can create such perfect symbiosis between the music and the artwork but here Leiras and photographer Rewinda Omar have created something that is not just complimentary, but ultimately beautiful.

Right at its core, lies the corrosive Marks and Emblems –  an abrasive dystopian nightmare that is the peak of this journey. It’s raw, commanding and slightly terrifying, yet highly addictive. You know you shouldn’t, but you come back for more and more. The album takes an interesting turn in the second half, with shorter softer songs taking prevalence, with the IDM-like Balbeek a particularly nice surprise that’s feel like the love-child of Joey Beltram’s short-lived but masterful Code 6 project and Bjarki’s recent outgoings on the трип label. Whilst the album is quite contrasting in nature, none of the tracks feel out of place but conversely, their individuality creates a perfect sense of cohesion.

A Prison Of Predictions feels like a battle cry of sorts, rallying against the accusations of predictability that are sometimes associated with the techno world. Leiras’ production skills and song-writing abilities are at full force here and it’s some of his finest work. He lunges in all directions – unpredictable, yet always in control.