On Prism of Dust, the world outside is a cold husk balancing on the edge of total implosion while those who are left hunker down inside, waiting for any chance to escape into the stars. Cinematic and exploratory, it’s an album that steeped in visual lore with heavy emotional stakes. Gentry weaves an intricate web of strings, synthesizers, and other electroacoustic instrumentation into a beautiful yet haunting array, rising against the bones of a civilization lost to find salvation elsewhere.
In the opening passages of “Nobody Wants to Be Here,” forlorn strings get overtaken by punctuated synth chords, a theme that’s threaded throughout Prism of Dust. Acoustic elements provide the bedrock, but a back-and-forth throughout finds pushback from the electronic building blocks. Gentry masterfully uses this dichotomy as a stepping stone to craft beautiful sequences and structures, evoking the fear and relief that comes with the end. “Nobody Wants to Be Here” is a perfect title for the piece; you want out, to let go, but you’ve known nothing else and it’s hard to ease your grip. As the pulsing bass and rhythm build to a climax, something’s got to give; the tension is too heavy. Gentry creates these moments throughout Prism of Dust, taking you on a thrilling ride.
Desolation and doom aren’t the only thematic elements on Prism of Dust. “Deviation and Dispersion” glimmers like a flickering beacon reflecting hope. Glassine arpeggios climb golden stairways to the sun, chased by the promise of setting everyone free. “Red and Black” is filled with anticipation, the feeling you get when plans are finally set into motion. Synth sequences push the motion forward until the strings take over once the piece is airborne with the burning planet in the rearview. It’s a beautiful passage of music; a mix of sadness and relief, barely held together by shimmering drones.
When Prism of Dust arrives at its final resting place, the incredible “Nobody Wants to Leave,” we’ve come full circle. Few albums in recent memory have done a better job using sound to create a tangible, visual world. This is music you can not only feel, but touch. It’s visceral, especially in the context of the world’s current situation. Ross Gentry has done an amazing job tying together so many elements into a stunning narrative that continues evolving with each subsequent listen. Prism of Dust is a remarkable piece of work.