Profanatica’s artful simplicity

All music ever aims to do is capture one aspect of psychology with sincerity and a degree of verisimilitude. Music doesn’t necessarily have to cover the entire breadth of human emotion; such a task is not only near-impossible, but also undesirable and frequently prone to a cheap consumerism of the soul. Emotional states aren’t ephemeral except perhaps in the pathologically ill; a state of mind exists with consistency and duration, and therefore, if music is the balm one chooses as accompaniment, then it only makes sense to listen to something that is resolute in ambition and delivery.

This dynamic becomes all the more enjoined on the minimalist musician on account of the redundancy inherent in his art. Because he willfully denies so much of the musical vocabulary otherwise available to the rest of the world, he is forced to focus all the more acutely on the slice of psyche he chooses to expose. When this approach is used merely as ruse and trend, without any basis in conviction or imagination, it can easily become tedious, but the talented artist employs this form of musical-intellectual asceticism to capture his audience ever more securely in a communion of will and thought.

There have certainly been many projects, in and outside of metal, more musically minimalist than Paul Ledney’s life’s work in Havohej and Profanatica, but that hasn’t saved Ledney from accusations of peddling a boneheadedly simple and rehashed music. That he has remained steadfast to the anti-Christian vitriol of younger years also renders him easy prey to horn-rimmed hipsters mouthing witticisms like “you hate Jesus Christ, we get it already!” But realistically, in what way exactly would these critics want him to diversify? Should Ledney conveniently surrender his blasphemous preoccupations at this late date and become yet another politically aware cosplayer in what already is a nauseatingly saturated political climate? Moreover, does anyone truly think the few textures he employs in his music are suited for any purpose other than religious desecration?

Profanatica sounds the way it does for a reason. Unlike something abstract and essentially non-committal like ambient or noise, Profanatica has very real emotional logic about it, only that that logic is the obverse of anything carrying an even tenuously positive connotation. Vomiting on Christianity is but the surface aspect of an undeclared ideology that in fact thrives in a valueless aether. Whatever one holds sacred to the point of it actually becoming that individual’s identity, to the point where the individual ceases to be an individual in the real sense, this ideology ridicules. Christian, Satanist,  Black, White, Hindu, Muslim, Antifa, Alt-Right, Metalhead even, any label whatsoever regarded and co-opted with self-serving pride comes under its ire.

One is almost tempted to call such a destructive ideology, if it is indeed what Ledney purports to, fatalistic, for what good is negation for the sake of negation? I like to think of it as a kind of nativistic individuality, where a person’s innate but initially obscured sense of being comes to be realized and consolidated at a relatively young age, somewhere in between the time when the haze of childhood indoctrination wears off and the bombardment from competing philosophies begins. This does not mean that the person stops growing or absorbing valuable sense-data from his environment, rather that this constantly fluctuating environment can never make corrosive inroads into that being which is now nothing less than iron-girded. Nor does it mean that he lacks agency if need be; he can and should act, but the thing to consider is that he now takes stands with prejudice according to the dictates of that being and the gravity of the situation, and not because he’s expected to or came to be under the proprietorship of a mass-market label promoting some ideologism fundamentally alien to him.

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