Husband wife combos can sometimes be a bit clichéd schmaltz, all winsome sing song and cooing back and forth. Cross Record are rather different. In 2013 Emily Cross decamped from Chicago to the remote, idyllic town of Dripping Springs, Texas with her husband, Dan Duszynski. Living on Moon Phase ranch with bird sanctuary in tow was something of a rather different experience to city life (the scorpions on the cover are a snap Cross took of the creatures in her bath), and over two years Cross has produced a potent, atmospheric and bewitching record which perfectly captures the firey dawns and smoky evenings of their new abode.
Wabi-Sabi is vast and intimate, and in this feels simultaneously unsettling but strangely comforting. Just nine tracks long, it is intense and passionate, disparate elements in the individual tracks making up for a lack of quantity elsewhere.
Lead single Steady Waves builds from acoustic flickers to a forboding howl of a climax, powerful and gripping in its cinematic sweeps, whereas Basket swims in an eerie smoulder. The video to High Rise is as disconcerting as its sonics, minimalist electro shifting into thick guitar, and moments of hopelessness shuddering into violent explosions. On The Depths muffled whispers merge into thunderous potency in a reflection of the instability of human experience and its messy dissonance, all in a measured fashion whilst Something Unseen Touches A Flower To My Forehead is the sweetest track on record.
There’s birds cawing in the distance, marimba and kalimba flickering, and a ladies choir offering vocals, adding to the feeling of being absorbed in the expansive vista. Destabilised static and soft pulsations blur with the sound of nature and those dusty warm spaces.
The recording process was slow but meticulous and Cross working sixty hour weeks in restaurants, cleaning and other roles which allowed her the head space to compose in her head. Through collaboration with a variety of other artists, the record been carefully sculpted, samples and recordings being produced, ripped apart, and changed again. What this means is that is that Wabi Sabi is exploratory and intoxicating in its slow perusal of deep emotions, stirring and resonant in its weirdness – and completely beguiling.
Out on Ba Da Bing Records on January 29th.
Originally published on Drunken Werewolf.