Provision Breaks Free With Paradigm Shift

Provision remains a die-hard dependable band of darkwave electronica masters in the Houston scene. Now on their fourth studio album and already into plans for their fifth, they return after a four year studio hiatus with their newest release, Paradigm Shift, and a gig opening for longtime spiritual mentors Clan of Xymox Saturday night at Numbers.

The new album has all the traditional Provisions hallmarks: Danceability, a kind of hollow echo to Breye 7x's voice that sounds like you're trapped inside a cathedral-sized processing unit, and a dark outlook that is going to forever allow Gothtopia to include them under our black umbrella no matter how many times they object to the label.

All good-natured genre-baiting aside, though, Paradigm Shift is sure to continue Provision's 10-year reign as mighty music weaponry in the hands of EBM club spinmasters. The album benefits a great deal from the acquisition of Matt Willis since 2007's The Consequence and the music and lyrical concepts forwarded by Jen K. The trio work like three seamless machines as they coax their beats, beeps, and boops from to strap you down and launch you screaming into Numbers' disco ball.

At the same time, the songs are very personal, despite the coldness that comes from composing in a tech-based style. The stark, naked pleas for love and isolation from more self-destructive individuals pierces straight into the racing heart. The sheer enjoyment of its dance beat cannot eclipse a song like "Crossline" where 7x draws a line in the sand between what is love and what is hurt.

All in all, it's a good time in Texas synth. Hyperbubble is better than ever, Asmodeus X is in the middle of mastering a new studio release, and Provision plainly proves that they have lost none of their pinpoint accuracy in the realm of cyberspook as they enter their second decade as a group.

As pop music continues to embrace the Auto-tune to the point of mechanisizing their fresh-faced ingénues, the true inheritors of the clockwork symphonic experience, the independent synthpop stars, show them up at every turn. Paradigm Shift is just the latest, if not the greatest, bitch slap to the mainstream.

We sat down with Breye 7x for a few words.

Rocks Off: I remember you telling me Jen was involved in a lot of the writing on the album. What's it like working with your wife? How has she changed the way Provision's music sounds?

Breye 7x: We keep our personal relationship out of the studio, and off of the stage. The last six years have proved that we can work together as professional musicians, and leave our marriage at home.

Working with Jen is extremely rewarding as she writes in a fashion that I normally wouldn't. Jen's style of production, opinions, and input are among the best we've ever had in the group. She's also brought a darker edge to Provision with her lyrics. A ton of the content on our new album was written by her, yet somehow meshes perfectly with the direction we want the band to move in.

Matt and I are truly blessed to have her on the team.

RO: It's been, what, four years since the last Provision studio album? How have you and your approach to music changed in the meantime?

B7x: I think the biggest change to occur in the four years since we released The Consequence, is the addition of Matt. Matt's contributions in the studio and having written Paradigm Shift collectively as a group made a huge impact to our sound and the content of our songs.

Our writing and production methods haven't really changed. We've just learned so much more in the last few years, and Matt brings a new element to the team. One that we didn't have on The Consequence.

RO: What do you most want from your audience? Do you want them to dance or to listen?

B7x: We've never expected anything from our audiences. The most rewarding experience over the last ten years has been the shows where the fans sing our lyrics back to us.

I try to interact with the crowd as much as possible, and take the time to look at every face in the crowd. We want our audience to have a great time. If we can get them to dance, and move their body then I think we have done our job!

RO: Most of the songs on the album seem to deal with either forging new relationships or breaking free of old ones? Is that an accurate interpretation or are we way off?

B7x: Unlike the lyrical content on our first three albums, of which most came from real life situations; Paradigm Shift is about 90 percent fictional. Songs like "Waiting" and "Love Like Machinery," deal with control and seduction while "I Lose Myself" and "I Thought You Knew" are rooted in lust, longing, and hope.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have "Broken," "Crossline," and "Symmetry" that were influenced by darker subjects in life such as apathy, misery, and reflection.

Conceptually, the album as a whole is about change and moving out of the negative in life that holds you back. It's about evolving, though you definitely understood the "breaking free" part of it!

RO: What's next for you and for Provision?

B7x: Matt has already submitted new lyrical contributions towards album #5, and I have spent the last few months compiling a new arsenal of gear on which to forge the next era of our sound. Jen is always writing, and already has new works for us to start fleshing out.

We hope to release an exclusive remix EP this summer, and I am currently booking a short regional tour with Synapse from Denver, Colorado for mid June. We'll stay busy for the foreseeable future, and hopefully our 5th LP will be out by the end of the year.

Provision opens for Clan of Xymox at Numbers Saturday, May 7.

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner