“Does Arthur Cayzer call himself ‘Pariah‘ because he believes he actually is one or did he just think it’s a really cool name?” Questions like that one are what go through a critic’s mind before s/he even gives the disc being reviewed a first listen. Sure, Shakespeare once wondered if a name means anything beyond the superficial, but once in a great while it actually does. Pariah is seemingly one such case. His name, when considered with the music he puts out, forces the listener to consider whether or not he honestly believes he is, either because of a reason we don’t know about or because of the music he makes – in this case, his new Safehouses EP. I find it’s the latter.
Safehouses alternates between there’s-a-lotta-shit-going-on-here dub-techno-triphop and quasi-ambient dubstep. Quite a few hyphens are required in order to describe a track like opener ‘The Slump,’ from the jittering beat to the trickling keyboard riff to the Crunk-heavy bass. And that’s just one song. It would be easy, then, to reason that with songs packed with ideas as full as this small collection, getting lost within the sonic collage is a practically a guarantee. Not so. Those that enjoy perusing their music will be rewarded with repeat spins because of the many layers within each cut. That said, the multitude of ideas here might suggest that Pariah simply thinks more is better. Or worse yet, that he may be hiding a lack of creativity beneath superfluous layer after superfluous layer. Not the case here. His dodecahedrons are less Jim Steinman and more the Bomb Squad. That is to say, with Pariah more is actually better.The multi-layered and fragmented beat of ‘Prism’ alone can’t be fully understood – and, thus, fully enjoyed – upon first listen. Hell, the lightning-strike synth isn’t meant to be discovered until maybe the fifth or sixth listen. And, fear not, even if you know it’s coming because of this piece, it’s still aural heaven.
But it’s only heaven to those connoisseurs who enjoy music that isn’t immediately disposable. If anything, to create music requiring any degree of effort to fully appreciate is to go against not only the very nature of the music industry but pop culture at large. And, yet, it’s so much more satisfying when an artist does it – and does it successfully. Hence, “Pariah.”
Or maybe I’m just reading far too into this.