Your Gateway to Music and More from a Christian Perspective
Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Label: Asthmatic Kitty Records
Time: 11 tracks / 38:26
Cryptacize is to rock/pop music what David Lynch is to mainstream film making. Like Lynch’s films, the music on Mythomania draws you in to an unexpected and surprising experience full of contradictions and beauty. It takes an artist (or group) of unusual ability to take a form that you’re familiar with, turn it sideways, take it apart, and put it back together again with such startling purity that you’re surprised that – even though you never experienced it that way before - it feels somehow exactly right. Cryptacize takes a minimalist approach to what might be called avant-pop music – and in doing so, opens the door to a sound that’s hauntingly familiar yet disturbingly different.
Main vocalist (and multi-instrumentalist) Nedelle Torrisi’s clear-as-a-bell voice nimbly traverses the ins and outs of the melodies, which often take surprising turns and frequently flirt with lonelier areas of the scale. Never flat or sharp, her voice has a pleasant and even soothing timbre, often in stark contrast to the instrumental bed that surrounds it. Although there are many elements that make up ‘the Cryptacize sound,’ Nedelle’s voice along with Chris Cohen’s staccato, distortion-filled guitar playing are the key elements that perk up the ears.
About Cohen’s guitar playing…. There’s a certain posturing arrogance that often goes hand-in-hand with rock guitar players, but Chris Cohen is far too busy for that while creating distortion-filled, textured chords and carefully laying out patterns of notes that sound deceptively simple yet require absolute precision to work in this… nusual context. The album’s lead-off track, “Tail and Mane,” has Cohen creating a controlled rhythmic frenzy of reggae/samba/rock chords before re-stating Nedelle’s vocal theme in exacting, deliberate tones – the very much in control Cohen will occasionally push a note almost to the point of going sharp as a stylistic technique to increase the musical tension and to keep us on our toes. Rarely do you come across a guitar player that plays so close to the edge, but Cohen seems to delight in it, with abandon!
Drummer/percussionist Michael Carreira is given the difficult task of filling the drummer’s seat for Cryptacize – a task made daunting by the rhythmic twists and turns in the music. Throwing out the preconceptions of what rock drumming should sound like, Carreira uses everything from wood blocks to cowbell, but most often concentrates on snare drum patterns, sometimes in an almost-military cadence, as in songs like “New Sell,” which closes the album. In keeping with the minimalist sound of the band, Carreira keeps his physical kit small, dealing with the essentials of playing the shifting patterns and rhythms with orchestral precision.
Certainly, Cryptacize is a mesmerizing band to see live. There’s an energy and wonder about seeing/hearing this music created in front of you by the three (sometimes four) people onstage. Cohen’s daring, energetic attack, Nedelle’s eye-of-the-hurricane vocal purity and Carreira’s impossibly small, but effective, drum kit create an alchemy that produces musical gold before your eyes.
Throughout Mythomania, Cryptacize manages to surprise us with passages that can only be described as beautiful, yet these moments are set in an almost Captain Beefheart-like musical environment (check out the instrumental bridge on the title track). It’s almost as if Beefheart trimmed his band down to a three-piece and hired Julee Cruise as lead singer - and yet the music of Cryptacize has an almost child-like simplicity to it under all of the complex time changes and melodic surprises. Children, after all, don’t always follow the rules of the game – in the case of Cryptacize and Mythomania, it turns out to be more fun for all of us.