David Deutsch - Prism (EP Review)

While his work as a film composer has landed him some big-name projects, LA-based musician David Deutsch flexes his 'serious composer' muscles on his debut EP Prism. Constituted by ambient-leaning pieces that play with sonic intensity, the EP often finds moments of serenity and beauty through acoustic piano, orchestral strings, and vocalises, though these moments are offset by more dynamic, rising, and energetic flourishes. 

For a track as bizarrely titled as "Free Shavocado", the opening piece ruminates on accessible and commercially-viable instrumental passages, connected by sonic twists, multi-layered piano and vibrating pulses. It is perhaps the most focused track on the collection; even if the voices rise over deafeningly loud strings, Satrianiesque electric guitar wails quietly in the background, and twinkling keys are composed as if for a commercial for a bank, this track is entertaining for its entirety; its shifting moods never letting the listener rest easy. The ambient pulses of "As The Wind Blows" take a bizarre turn to hyper-modern instrumental electro-pop. It's exhilarating, if not unnecessary. Deutsch is masterly at creating big moods out of the minimal, and the dichotomous dynamics of this track highlight that, with the more excitable moments causing tension where once there was calm. Such is also the case for "Iceland", which begins with a beguiling landscape of scattered notes and sounds before a swell of intimidating choir voices comes loudly into the pristine scene, like a jet plane breaking through fluffy white clouds. 


Elsewhere, the delicate beauty of "Alone" starts awash with sustained-to-eternity tones before relying on the fail-safe of epic strings to reach a peak. Such is often the case for Deutsch's compositions, which regularly fast-track urgency through dramatic, cue-the-feels instrumentation. It's not surprising for an artist who works in the film industry. And though the plastic superficiality of Hollywood has its fingerprints on this EP, saccharine beauty substituting the experimentalism customarily found in contemporary classical, there is plenty of mellifluous music on offer in which to luxuriate. If simplicity is your bag, a more restrained effort can be found on the American primitive guitar of "Joshua", with Deutsch alternating between softly plucked strings and quicker bursts of fingerpicking, with no orchestration sight.  

Though Prism sometimes doesn't seem to know whether it should be a soundtrack or playing to a well-dressed audience at a concert hall, the intentions wonderfully collide in a cinematic and emotive deluge. The moments of intimacy juxtapose with grandness and culminate in an absorbing listening experience that sits halfway between the real and imagined, the tangible and the ethereal, and brimming with equal measures of the intensity of life and the reverie of cinema.