Mournful Nitch | (blouseuse)
It’s a shame that Nicole Thomas-Kennedy lost the Seattle City Attorney race, but if that’s any consolation, her husband Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy is about to release a phenomenal album under her alias (blouseusa). He’s a veteran of Seattle’s underground music scene, playing drums with cerebral metal band Lesbian and improvised psych-rockers Fungal Abyss, and guitar for his other semi-solo project, Shitty Person, with Nicole on bass. Under his sleeve (blouseusa), Thomas-Kennedy has created some of his most inventive music, often deviating from his best-known exploits in Lesbian and Fungal Abyss. The last feature film, the improv-heavy Dismal nitch (Drongo Tapes), might be his most interesting yet. “The pandemic really gave me more time to explore more complex ideas,” Thomas-Kennedy said in a post.
The main track of Dismal nitch, “Bellss”, is a spontaneous combustion of enticing tinkling and clusters of rapid metallic percussions. Sounding like a manic western version of gamelan, the track serves as a radical stimulus and intriguing gateway to (blouseusa) ‘s seventh album. A mere tease at 66 seconds, the song is a showcase for Thomas-Kennedy’s percussion and collage skills, as is the entire album, which was mastered by Mell Dettmer. Dismal nitch reveals his affinity for robust funk (“Slim Rhonda”, “Hope Smotes”, the latter with Master Musicians of Bukkake guitarist Jim Davis), and jazz (“Pysht”, with Diminished Men guitarist Simon Henneman playing Sonny Sharrock wheelies on his guitar), Miles Davis’ Fractured Fusion ca. In the corner (“Wayst”, with trumpeter Greg Kelley), heavy metal rampages (“Broken Down”), disco doomy (“Pressured Speech”) and thunder roll (“Bala” with Amanda Vaporkott).
In his capricious way, Dismal nitch recalls the cult classic of Wrecking Crew drummer Hal Blaine from 1967 Psychedelic percussion, offering a panoply of crazy rhythms in concise bursts of offbeat inspiration. This is the greatest praise I can give to a solo album by a drummer.