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Proem is the long-running solo project of electronic musician Richard Bailey. One of America's most notable IDM artists, Bailey's work typically features complex arrangements of glitchy beats and highly emotive melodies, filled with unpredictable switches and changes. Since 1999, he has released over 20 full-lengths and EPs on well-respected labels such as Merck and n5MD. After continually refining his bright, expressive sound on beat-driven releases such as 2004's Socially Inept and 2007's A Permanent Solution, Proem explored dark ambient and drone on releases like 2009's Till There's No Breath. He returned to rhythmic material with 2019's Until Here for Years.
Originally from Austin, Bailey began experimenting with sound as a youth, recording noise and drone recordings using distortion pedals, thrift-store turntables, tape decks, cheap keyboards, and various effects. Eventually he began making computer-based music, constructing complex beats and wondrous melodies using a DOS-based tracker program called Modedit. After Bailey sent demos out to several record labels, Hydrant Records released the first Proem album, Burn Plate No. 1, in 1999. This caught the attention of the IDM scene, and numerous other releases followed. After netlabel Monotonik released the Too Many Cookies EP in 2000, Miami-based Merck Records released Negativ in 2001. This was shortly followed by Among Others, released by n5MD on their original preferred format, MiniDisc. No Carrier EP was released by Component in 2002, with 2=1 12" (Merck) and Standard Naming Convention 7" (n5MD) appearing the same year. In 2004, n5MD released Proem's liveMD[cd?] as a compact disc; it was originally planned as a MiniDisc release, but was switched after Sony stopped manufacturing the format. Two additional full-length CDs, Socially Inept (Merck) and Songs 4 the City Bus (Coredump), were also released in 2004, as well as the digital EP Darker Still, Proem's first dark ambient release. Debone and Unravel, two 7" singles containing Proem remixes of tracks by artists such as Blamstrain and Ilkae, were released by Merck in 2005. You Shall Have Ever Been, a double CD dedicated to the late Jay Jedlicka, founder of Coredump, was released by Merck in 2006. A Permanent Solution followed on n5MD in 2007.
Till There's No Breath, released by Nonresponse in 2009, was Proem's first ambient full-length, stripping away the beats and upfront melodies in favor of drifting textures and much darker atmospheres. 2010's n5MD-issued Enough Conflict was in Proem's familiar IDM style, but 2013's Before It Finds You and 2018's Modern Rope, both self-released, contained some of his coldest, most haunting ambient work. In between, Bailey released a series of four Vault EPs, containing some of his early noise and drone experiments as well as unreleased tracks dating back to his earliest albums as Proem. Until Here for Years, the artist's first n5MD release in nine years, appeared in 2019. ~ Paul Simpson
- Austin, TX
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