As an upstate denizen, I’m a fan of cold. The winter chill encourages a healthy time for reflection when your faced with no one but yourself, sorting through the ins and outs. ProEf’s EP All Eye Know, released in early 2012 on Otnorot Recordings, channels this loneliness and self-consciousness with its mysteriously pensive sounds that delve into ambient/downtempo vibes, hip-hop rhythms, and hypnagogic samples.
On his website, ProEf states the catalyst for All Eye Know was “new states of consciousness.” As a listener this is apparent on the first track “Fading DeLights,” which begins with a hollow clattering sound reminiscent of an ancient Chinese meditation bowl. With ghostly street noises fading in and out of the melody, a bleak and beautiful soundscape is slowly created. It’s an atmospheric track that reminds me of a late night walk home with my hood up, hiding yet completely aware.
The album’s title seems to recall Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “transcendent eye,” which suggests that solitude can be used to connect with a divine presence and enhance unity between the spirit and the natural world.
In “Bone Chilly” there is a pressing conflict between the external world and how it affects the internal world, while on the album’s title track there’s a tension between action and complacency that the track’s rhythmic direction seems to mimic. ProEf speaks over the repetitive synth staccatos, “I don’t know what you want from me/ All I know is exactly what I see,” which is followed by a cry for help. The same disillusioned feel is heard in “At a Glance,” where it opens with a transit authority voice droning “Please mind the gap.” The music halts in the beginning, channels the busy subway station, then picks up with a rapid and anxious beat.
Contrasted with the slower, more meditative songs is “Slow Motion Through My Window,” which is one of the most moving tracks in this collection. A deep, majestic cello rumbles through a steady sample that sounds like a body struggling to move forward. It builds, slowly, while the two contrasting sounds harmonize. The tone is dark and confused with glimmers of strength, which I find to be the most successful part of this transcendent creation.
Compared to ProEf’s upbeat and electric compositions like “Ok One Last Sushi Roll” and “So Let’s Take A Trip,” which you can find on Soundcloud, there’s a more serious, complacent attention as to how the field recordings, samples, hip-hop rhythms, and synths interact. It’s a wonderful mix between steady and upbeat, similar to artists like Gramatik, Emancipator, and Blue Sky Black Death. Overall, All Eye Know begs to be listened to when you’re in a quiet and reflective mood, ready to let go of your fears.
Review by Ailsa Forlenza