Following Burial, Synkro and Holy Other, composer and producer Prayer creates music soaked in emotion and cinematic gravity. Though rich with a similarly gothic intensity to those above, Prayer’s output is directed by the distinct aim of exploring the relationship between classical and electronic music, hauling the former down from the lofty, inaccessible levels it’s perceived to occupy. Trained in classical guitar and piano, and having studied Beethoven, Brahms and Stravinsky in depth at university, Prayer’s introducing a compositional approach to the production desk.
His first attempts at electronic production came from a fairly leftfield angle, making acousmatic music in the vein of Pierre Schaeffer and Jean-Claude Risset, constructing from found sounds before moving towards the beat-based, club-ready music he now makes. His 2013 debut ‘The Two Halves’ found a home on Zomby’s Cult Music, foreshadowing a recognisable, elegiac sound palette: yearning, pitched vocal samples, skittish drum patterns, and canvas-like strings. Subsequent singles and EPs, mostly self-released, solidified a mournful, atmosphere-heavy sound, weaving between ten-minute electronic symphonies, bass-heavy club tracks and downtempo tearjerkers.
But it was with this year’s Lost EP that Prayer really began to use his music as a tool to explore the links between electronic and classical music. Described as a “four-part body of work put together to challenge perceptions of the classical world’s traditional inaccessibility”, the EP subtly manipulates instrumental textures into newer, rawer electronic soundscapes. The influences of composers such as Michael Nyman, Henryk Gorecki and Max Richter nevertheless remain, with epic strings and piano sitting alongside synths, rumbling bass and breakbeats.
Prayer’s most recent outing Seeing EP follows broadly the same parameters as Lost. It’s another statement of intent, pushing for a “diversification of classical music”. To this end, it certainly succeeds, pairing vast orchestral sweeps with much darker and abrasive percussive elements. The EP opens with ‘Alone’, a stern half-time roller, while the title track is a whipcrack of nostalgia – frantic amen breaks cruise below Prayer’s trademark strings and vocals. The entire package is mechanical yet emotive, nostalgic yet fresh – suggesting that Prayer has fully hit his stride in marrying classical and electronic music into a coherent and unique package.