CRYPTACIZE – Dig That Treasure

Cryptacize - Dig That Treasure There’s not a whole lot to Cryptacize’s first album; everything about it, from the music to the album art, carries with it an air of suggestive emptiness. Aesthetically, Dig That Treasure is peculiar, but not due to a devotion to weirdness or to an over-indulgence in pop ecstasies. Rather, it’s peculiar because of a constant, unyielding effort to splitting the difference between the two and walking way, way off into the horizon as a part of the process.

The music on Dig That Treasure walks the line between the shimmering harmonics of Animal Collective and the bright, delicate atmosphere of Grizzly Bear, but whittled down to their barest – and with little to no tempo. Standing in stark contrast to this are the crystal-clear and uncomplicated vocals, delivered either by Chris Cohen (formerly of Deerhoof) or Nadelle Torrisi. The end result is collection of songs that sound more like showtunes rejects than indie or pop songs; there’s the same vague expressiveness hinted at in each track, and whether or not each track fulfills itself by the end seems to come at random.

We’ll Never Dream Again is one of the successful tracks. It, like much of the album, is made up of an uncluttered minimalism. A quaint guitar line that sometimes pulses forward. Simple drum flourishes (there’s actually a drumbeat in part of this song). The dual vocals of Chris and Nadelle, moving back and forth from one another as the song goes on, forming a detached duet. Detached is a great way to describe most of the singing on the album. It’s flat, emotionless stuff, but it works every once in a while (as it does here – the tone of it is the perfect means to convey a great sadness, which is what the song is working with – it’s unexpected, and more affecting than perhaps it should be).

The vocal payoff happens in much the same manner in No Coins, a semi-waltz that would sound right at home in the first sad scene of an animated Disney movie. Again, the simplicity of everything here makes it work. What better way to approach a song about poverty than with a bare palette?

However, it’s this same palette that is Dig That Treasure’s undoing. Even if the band had created an album that had made the most of this approach to music on every song, it still wouldn’t be great; for one thing, it would be horribly repetitive (which it is now), but it would be only slightly less bothersome that it was so. And that fact that Dig That Treasure is what it is has a lot else working against it.

The album fares better when the songs are more concrete (as they are on the title track, a fleeting, poppy ballad that is the album’s best song). But for most of the time, Cryptacize are being too abstract for their own good, and they wind up creating not songs, but little 3-to-4 minute chunks of musical stasis instead. Nowhere is this more apparent then on the opening track, Stop Watch, which has several false starts, and even more false conclusions. At four minutes, it’s the album’s longest song, and coincidentally, also its biggest blunder. Fortunately, either by chance or by decision, they get this mistake out of the way first, which is a good idea.

The band make the same mistake many more times on Dig That Treasure: on Water Witching Wishes, on Heaven is Human, on How Did The Actor Laugh?, on Cosmic Sing-a-long, and so on, and so on. None of these songs add up to anything, even though we’re fully aware that things are going on inside of them as we listen. But whatever keeps them in motion is lost between the speakers and the listener. And what we’re left with is a bland patch sound occasionally punctuated by music. This isn’t something I’d recommend to someone unless you’re looking to totally cleanse whatever sonic palette you may have accrued. In that respect, Cryptacize work quite well. As music, not so much.



One Response to “CRYPTACIZE – Dig That Treasure”

  1. […] Mythomania (2009) Cryptacize’s ldebut album, Dig That Treasure was an album that went unloved by me. How unloved? Well, I received my copy as a parting gift from a radio station that I was […]

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