The Upshot: Melodic minimalism from Minneapolis as envisioned for piano, double bass, percussion and synth.
BY FRED MILLS
Pianist Crystal Myslajek hails from Minneapolis, having previously been part of the Brute Heart bass/drum/piano trio (which issued a 45 via her current home, the Waterwing label, in addition to a couple of full-lengths). For her solo debut, Myslajek doesn’t fully jettison the Brute Heart sound, working here with a double bassist and percussionist, along with co-producer John Marks’ synthesizer colorations. Yet within this melodic minimalism, she stakes out a unique territory for herself.
“Minimalism,” in fact, may be a misleading term, for these seven compositions are richly wrought, evidence of a classical upbringing (if not training), at times downright cinematic. One imagines the solo-piano “Fractals,” for example, soundtracking an opening credits scene, as it traverses a panoply of emotional possibilities. And as most of these are instrumentals, selected segments would easily provide any number of appropriate accompaniment for visuals (check “Prism” and its alternately suspenseful and resolute tones).
Myslajek also submits the stray, unexpected vocal: “Shimmer,” which at 7 ½ minutes is the longest tune, starts amid a shudder of percussion and ghostly, ethereal singing; mid-song, the distant, distaff voice is heard, at once grave and hopeful. As is the entire album. Hold that thought…
This remarkable album is pressed, per the Water Wing label mandate, on thick 180-gram vinyl, and it’s housed in a striking black/grey textured sleeve. And for fans who get the urge to go the whole analog 100 yards, the album is also available on limited edition cassette—upon which, apparently, the aforementioned, not-to-be-missed “Shimmer” is a bonus track. Take your pick.
DOWNLOAD: “Circadia,” “Fractals,” “Shimmer”