Release Date: Apr 21, 2009
Record label: Asthmatic Kitty
Genre(s): Rock, Experimental
Limitation as the source of grandeurStill dwelling in the sparse territory that made its 2008 debut, Dig That Treasure, a quiet success, Cryptacize quickly returns with Mythomania. While the band remains true to its less-is-more instincts, Mythomania’s songs stand as fully developed structures that take advantage of their limited instrumentation. Chris Cohen’s guitar work—which has moved toward the groove-based rhythms of ’50s R&B—assumes many roles, from a dopey mosey underneath Nedelle Torrisi’s powerful vocal delivery (“Tail & Mane”) to the darkness of “The Loving Sun.” The compositions remain surprisingly unhampered by the wide undercurrent of spastically sped up sounds and textures.
On Dig That Treasure, Cryptacize played tug of war with innocence and sophistication, and form and freedom, all the while pitting melodies as pure as standards or lullabies against radically simple yet artful playing. Their sound was strange, in the best possible way, and difficult to pin down; on Mythomania, Cryptacize trades some of that strangeness for immediacy, which isn't necessarily a bad thing -- previously, their sketches and vignettes were so delicate and spare that they often seemed in danger of floating away. Here, that delicacy is tempered by more regular rhythms and structures that give these songs at least a few roots in terra firma, without sacrificing too much of their experimentalism or charm.
Here's the paradox of Chris Cohen's post-Deerhoof canon: We love its infantile, gee-golly-mister tone, yet his better work is usually celebrated as sounding "grown up" or "mature," literally and/or figuratively. On the last album from the Curtains, another of his former bands, Cohen finally wrangled his Pandora's box of ideas into structured songs, and the group's growth smacked of something like developmental biology. Founded with singer Nedelle Torrisi, Cryptacize prods Cohen into more "adult" territory, though the group's debut still evinced cringe-worthy cuteness in songs like "Cosmic Sing-a-long", which contained the mantra "Every note is an unfinished song.
Almost definitely better known for his work as guitarist and bassist in Deerhoof - and to a lesser degree The Curtains - Cryptacize is Chris Cohen's 'other' band. A band with as much an eye on the present and future as the past is often prone to falling into the traps of both, but this lot are a band who mostly know their own sound and what to do with it, but not quite where to take it. It all starts with a bump – 'Tail & Mane' easily the bumpiest thing on here as it clunks into gear – but struggles to pull itself up the hill at such a pace again.
On Mythomania, Cryptacize’s energetic pop is full of sharp edges and hard stops. They pull the listener around on the album, jumping from frenetic sound to frenetic sound. The bounce of “Mane & Tail” cuts to the quick thump of “What You Can’t See Is”. Spikes of funky guitar drive “Blue Tears”, while the title track shuffles along on shimmering piano.
While the screech of manipulated tape recorded mandolin plays at an accelerated pace during Tail & Mane, (like a manic Venice on Ephedra), the song’s otherwise perky throb is dressed up by singer Nidelle Torrisi’s appealing tone and predictably festooned with rapid-fire guitar successions, noise-based and detuned as if we haven’t heard that before. Tail & Mane attempts to instill guitarist Chris Cohen’s (Curtains, ex-Deerhoof) idiosyncratic approach to songwriting into anyone listening to Mythomania, second album by minimalist indie trio Cryptacize. Mythomania is a cute and bewildering jam that embraces the twinkling gaze of fairytale dreams and candy-coated kingdoms while tapping into that indie vein of perpetual hipness, seemingly resigned to get by on cleverness and guitar solos that resemble Neil Young at his least dexterous.
Ex-Deerhoof and Curtains guitarist Chris Cohen and singer/guitarist/keyboardist Nadelle Torrisi (joined by drummer Michael Carriera and bassist Aaron Olson) reunite for a second go-round as Crypatcize on Mythomania, a poppy and polished follow-up to last year’s Dig That Treasure. The combination of Cohen’s guitar wizardry (loops, sped-up passages, and dense multi-tracking) and Torrisi’s serpentine, minor-key melodies creates a sound that evokes fifties space-age instrumentals, flowery psychedelia, and on occasion (the title track) girl-group pop While Cohen’s guitar is foregrounded throughout, it’s always deployed at the service of the songs, which in spite of their often-baroque arrangements, are relatively straightforward. Cohen and Torrisi (the former sings lead on two tracks) favor rather classical melodies, whether of the almost bubble-gum sing-song variety one is inclined to describe as “innocent” (“The Cage,” “Mythomania”) or of a somewhat more menacing ilk (“The Long Way Home”).