Making minimal music is easy. Making minimal music that holds your attention and makes your neck hairs erect—now that's hard. This year's Dead Accents Showcase (www.deadaccents.com) features two local producers who have managed the difficult feat of harvesting sparse arrays of tones then shaping them into fascinating compositions—Crystal Hell Pool and Blouse (u.s.a.).
Crystal Hell Pool (aka Chris Majerus) keeps a profile that's as low as his music is stark (although I often see him at various record stores, he's never once hyped himself to me). CHP came to my attention with his Incantation to Nothingness CD, a pitiless sojourn into dark ambient that artfully avoids the genre's well-worn tropes. In a previous Data Breaker, I wrote that the album "dredge[d] up murkily luminous tones that intrigue through barely perceptible gradations in emphasis."
With his new CD-R, Infinity Medicine, Crystal Hell Pool continues his beatless, minimal drone-mongering to similarly neck-hair-erecting effect. The disc's five tracks waft like a surreptitious vapor into your consciousness, evoking the isolationist drift of Mick Harris's Lull project and Brian Eno's depopulated lullabies from On Land. A glacial, mineral calm inhabits this music, and as you listen, you can feel your pulse beneficently decelerating to that of a yogi's. But Infinity Medicine is anything but new age pap; rather, it's stoic tone poetry that's slightly too unsettling for meditation yet too tranquil for horror-flick scoring. Ultimately, it's quite elusive and distant, and that's good.
Blouse (u.s.a.)—one of Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy's many musical endeavors—sounds slightly more extroverted than Crystal Hell Pool. For one thing, Thomas-Kennedy (a drummer for the Abodox, Lesbian, the Marrying Type, and other groups) uses beats, albeit in down-tempo modes. For another, his melodies are more expressive and his tonal palette more varied. But Blouse (u.s.a.) is still an exercise in disciplined minimalism.
Eno again figures into the sonic equation, with the eerie, sci-fi-soundtrack synth emanations of Bernard Szajner (and his Zed alter ego) and the intense drone color fields of Phill Niblock also tinting headspace in subtle shades of bruised purple and tarry black.
Check out Thomas-Kennedy's 17-track album Blouse at www.blouseblouse .bandcamp.com for a fathoms-deep plunge into his nonrock inclinations. Oh, look... your neck hairs are standing at attention—again. (Dead Accents should be selling a handmade CD version of Blouse—with bonus tracks—at the Josephine.)