The un-googleable Bay Area artist began in 2017 as a cult act: a Bandcamp success, then a Sacred Bones signee. Her first two records are electronic freak music; dirges about witchcraft sprawled over dark Italian synths. They were unique and often brilliant, but a somewhat niche concern. On Turning Wheel however, SPELLLING throws the doors wide open.
"I'm in permanent revolution" sings Chrystia Cabral on Revolution, one of many stand out tracks on The Turning Wheel, her third album under the Spellling name (note the deliberate, third l). It's impossible to reduce such an ambitiously kaleidoscopic album to one line but if you had to pick one that defines the record this is the one that keeps presenting itself. It's not just because of the synergy it shares with the album title, but more down to the whirl of ravishing colour and extroverted drama that it encapsulates.
Oakland-based artist Chrystia Cabral, who makes music as SPELLLING, has a knack for spinning fairy tales into jagged and reflective truths. In her lyrics, picture-book scenery and happy endings are swapped with existential longing, political criticism, and unsparing self-questioning. She often incorporates pop music itself as another myth to retell slantwise.
If there is anyone that would be able to pull off creating a Broadway musical set in outer space, it would certainly have to be Chrystia Cabral (known by her wonky moniker SPELLLING). Cabral's third LP, The Turning Wheel, sees her taking her affinity for campy theatrics and spacey sci-fi production seen on her previous two albums to another height, thus creating her most maximalist and lavish project yet. The grandiosity of The Turning Wheel's production can be heard from the very first track, "Little Deer," with sweeping horn and string sections backdropping Cabral's high-pitched vocal delivery, sounding almost as if she is singing to a classroom of children.