Artist Profile: Priima

Priima (aka Ryan Rees) is something of a prodigy, producing a moody, authentic brand of synth pop that sounds straight out of the genre’s heyday—with a few touches of...

Priima (aka Ryan Rees) is something of a prodigy, producing a moody, authentic brand of synth pop that sounds straight out of the genre’s heyday—with a few touches of 90s ambient and modern electronics and not from someone who was born in 1996.

Rees, who has been creating music since 2012, released a full-length album in 2014 entitled Staircase Anthem and is currently working on a two-album projected called Mystery House. In the meantime, Priima has released two outstanding singles in 2015, the first “Outcry”, dropped in March and the second, “Wanderer” is newly-minted as of 22 May.

When the collective who represent Rees, a group calling themselves Birthday Tape, made me aware of his music back in March 2015, I took a listen to “Outcry” and was immediately and completely stunned by the quality of the single—both versions of it.

“Outcry” matches a smooth, sweeping synth line with a tense rhythm bed—which is absent in the alternate version—that is the perfect backdrop for Priima’s magnificent voice.

That voice is often a dead ringer for Ian McCulloch’s (with a touch of John Foxx) and the denseness of Rees’ music is reminiscent of early Depeche Mode, but this is no mere slavish imitation.

Rather, Priima, who along with the Birthday Tape collective makes his home in Mandeville, Louisiana, distills his heady influences through the lens of the early 21st century with a clean sound and a tight focus, both of which are beautifully apparent on Priima’s latest single, “Wanderer”.

“Wanderer” ups the atmospherics from “Outcry”, with Priima’s voice heavily echoed and reverbed over a scratchy, glitchy almost chip tune-sounding rhythm bed—which includes a bit of old-school drum machine for good measure.

The b-side of “Wanderer”, “See You Tomorrow,” also is anchored by the drum machine, beginning with an urgent, skittering beat before settling into an almost swinging groove. Priima’s voice is at its most open and vulnerable—shades of Robert Smith—on “See You Tomorrow” as he sings, “what do you want from me? Why don’t you tell me who I should be? I’m feeling an ache to hide from this world now”, as he urges a lover to run away with him.

Priima has already grown leaps and bounds as a musician and songwriter between the advent of Staircase Anthem, which was a nervy, Beck-obsessed outing, to his latest releases. If that growth and maturity is consistently evident on the upcoming Mystery House, Volume 1, then Priima (and Birthday Tape) deserve widespread accolades for bringing gothy synthpop into the 21st century.

Priima/Birthday Tape online:

Image courtesy of Birthday Tape and Priima

Gnome – Senior Contributing Writer

Gnome is a male-assigned genderqueer academic, educator, musician, and vinyl junkie who is absolutely thrilled to have the chance to write about music. When not learnin’ em good, Gnome is making the occasionally valiant attempt to finish a dissertation.
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