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We have all likely wondered at one point in our lives what lies beyond the shadows. What would we see? What would we hear? Would the sounds be angelic and the music ambient? Or would it be something starker, more eerie, yet stunning, as our deepest thoughts and secrets emerge from the darkness? I had always imagined it would something closer to the latter, and Cross Record‘s startling Wabi-Sabi might just be this “otherworld’s” soundtrack.
Written mostly on a ranch in rural Texas, Cross Record’s sophomore album reflects their quiet, solitary surroundings, where even the slightest sound echoes in the stillness of the night and project mastermind Emily Cross’ arias reach euphoric levels. The uneasy beauty in the music is highlighted on “Steady Waves”. This stirring track opens with Cross’ quiet voice questioning life – “What is the word? An unhuman search. Memories touching, heavy fogness came out of it.” It then falls into a cascade of rhythms and acoustic guitar before returning to Cross’ soft whisper.
“High Rise”, likewise, is a soul-crushing track. The reverb of the electric guitar and Cross’ mesmerizing voice combine to take the track to atmospheric levels. The sonic gem, “The Depths”, is pure bliss – a dreamy and captivating alt-folk track that is breathtakingly stunning. “Two Rings” tantalizes with its oft-kilter rhythms and Scandinavian-influenced melody, breathing life into Cross’ esoteric analogies and providing a breath of fresh air for the prevailing darkness that drapes the album.
Cross Record also channel a primal side in exploring life. Played over the echo of the electronic guitar and the union of the voice of Cross and her husband Dan Duszynski, “Wasp In A Jar” is a heavy, folk-rock track reminiscent of Sharon Van Etten‘s early works and TORRES‘ deep indie-rock. “The Curtains Apart” and “Basket”, meanwhile, head towards more experimental soundscapes, a blend of Björk‘s brilliant but challenging escapades and Tiny Ruins‘ quiet simplicity.
This record, however, is anything but simple. It is steeped with subtle complexity that quietly captures your attention and imagination. What is the life like on the other side? What would we find? Cross Record may be living that right now, as Wabi-Sabi is an album that transcends time and space.
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