Posts Tagged ‘cryptacize’

On Tour With Crypta-Seize!

Friday, October 9th, 2009

cleveland

Finally! A dream fulfilled! I’m touring with the pop sensation Crypta-Seize. The glamour. The strobe lights! The paparazzi! The eye shadow. Pinch me now, wake me from this fabulous slumber, lest I spend an eternity of fantasies ensconced in stage lights and taffeta and ticker tape. I am star struck! Guitarist Chris Cohen’s school-boy sweaters and plaid button-ups and 1950s good-boy hair-cut taunt and tease the legions of teenage fans. And what about lead singer Nedelle with her exotic Italian pout, her 80’s housewife attire: high waisted jeans, oversized Ts, and a vibrant “mom-bob”? The bass player who looks as if he’s just been Bar-mitvahed. A jazz drummer who looks like Jooaquin Phoenix, the rapper, not the actor.  This is the recipe for Hot Rocks! I am living the dream!

The publicist says I get to email Nedelle Torrisi some Qs about stardom, stadiums, and starlight mints (on their rider!). What should I ask?

Q:  Nedelle, I’m so excited to ask you: what’s it like on stage, with all the lights, with all the screaming fans, with all the feedback from the monitors!?
A: I’m in spotlight hog heaven, really. I’m living the dream. It took me a long time to get here, but I’ve arrived and I’m here to stay.

Q: Do you practice your dance moves back stage in front of a mirror?
A: Yes, my moves don’t just materialize out of thin air. Everything I’m presenting to the fans is a result of hard work and lessons from Patty’s Studio of Dance.

Q: Do you ever wear a unitard on stage?
A: No, but ever since I saw the Judas Priest “Behind the Music” on the bus I’ve been considering it. If Rob Halford can look hot in one, there’s hope for me!

Q: Are you and Chris brother and sister?
A: We’re first cousins.

Q: Is the song “Cosmic Sing-a-long”  about middle school gym class?
A: Yes! You’ve been reading the blogs, haven’t you!

Q: Reverb or delay, if you had to choose one over the other?
A: Reverb!

Q: What’s the situation in Lebanon?
A: Dismal.

Q:  Is your tour bus pimped out? I.e. are there mirrors on the ceilings?
A: Yes! It’s such a bachelor pad. There’s even a circular couch in a secret back room where we take our nightly conquests.

Q: Have you had any work done? i.e. lip-implants? hair extensions?
A: Just Lee press-on nails.

Q: Is your drummer Joaquin Phoenix?
A: Unfortunately no. But he looks like a cross between Joaquin and a shorter Devendra Banhart.

Q: PC or MAC?
A: I don’t have a computer.

Q: Do you sell onesies at the merch table? For adults?
A: American Apparel ruined onesies for me. Now I think all babies look like slutty teenage girls.

Q: Do you have any embarrassing tattoos? Can you upload photos to twitter right now please?
A: Yes, I have spider webs on my elbows. I totally regret it so I’d rather not tweet them.

Q: Is Chris a time traveler from the 1950s?
A: Yes. If we were to bounce a ball on the tour bus, and another rock band was loading their gear on the side of the road, the ball would appear to move at a different speed to them, you feel me?

Q: Is English your second language?
A: You can tell?

Q: Are you afraid of snails? Like, if you were trapped in quick sand and they were all over your face?
A: Clusters of things gross me out- so yeah, snails all over my face would be visually unpleasing.

Q: Do you know if they still make CD Walkmen? I mean, who still uses that?
A: Funny you should ask, Aaron (Crypta-seize bass player) still uses a discman and brings an oversized case logic on tour with him. It needs its own seat belt, the thing weighs a ton.

Q: Did you invest in Sony Walkman, LLC? And do you totally regret it now?
A: I lived in Frisco during the dotcom crash and it wasn’t pretty.

Q: Will you sign my hard drive?
A: NO

Q: What’s your favorite internet provider?
A: Google

Q: Do you think Michael Jackson is still alive? Like, do you think he’s in outer space watching over us.
A: I heard when they discovered his body it was too late to cyrogenically freeze him, which I’m sure he’s pissed about.

Q: Is your bassist on lava life?
A: He’s not old enough, he’s only 13!

Cryptacize is ALIVE! Decipher that code, yo!

Thursday, June 5th, 2008
Photo by Sarah Cass

Photo by Sarah Cass

Yes, of course I revel in the busy ambition of songwriters who seek to challenge themselves to endless boundaries, to jump fences, to scale large mountains. But what is the effort all about? Cryptacize yield to no such ambitions. They make music that is refreshingly coherent, stewed with deliberate melodies, a refinement of instrumentation, no excess, nothing wasted, nothing lost. Their new record “Dig That Treasure” offends many of my own musical impulses, the over-achieving bigger-is-better-shock-and-awe approach. Obviously I’m not offended, but rather in complete admiration of the band’s minimalist gorgeousness. These songs are not trifles, but rather cryptic haiku poems that expand toward a vast cosmic significance. But one doesn’t have to be a cartographer to appreciate these songs. Their surfaces shimmer to the ear, like magic crystals hanging in the windowsill.

Chris Cohen’s guitar shakes off all the fashionable amplifiers and effects pedals of his previous band Deerhoof. Nedelle Torrisi’s voice carries the uncomplicated clarity of a 1950s movie musical, shimmering to a soft vibrato, triggering a beauty that is as bold as it is matter-of-fact. No shock and awe needed here. Texturally, the songs present comic tragedies of everyday life. The Cosmic Sing Along. Playing the Evil Role in a Movie. False Pretenses. Dig That Treasure, i.e. mine for your greatest pleasures, or keep looking, or don’t give up! One never quite knows if the setting is a living room or a space station. And then there’s the loving 1960s pop sensuality, high school infatuation, boy crazy, dreams of true love, or other operatic propulsions escalading into open exclamations of “oh no!” The sweetness of each melody is never quite safe. It is like some chirpy Broadway musical prophesying the end of civilization. Somehow these sentiments entrench easily around other abstract, philosophical topics about heaven on earth, pocket change, or human fear. Lyrics here can be excerpted for an obtuse self-help calendar. “Every note is an unfinished song.”  “No one really knows me.” “No amount of power could ever replace the way he said my name.” To listen to Cryptacize is to embark on the act of digging great treasures. Patience and fortitude pays off in great golden swathes of fortune.

Sometimes I worry that the ever-increasing trend toward excessive innovation has pushed the art and music world into a slapstick exhibition of dog breeding, generating increasingly newer, more contemporary fashions: gothic folk, for one. Or Afro-beat Ivy League pop. Maybe this only reflects the inevitable merging of all cultures, in which art slowly becomes a least common denominator for the interchange of multiple civilizations coming together in one song. I don’t mind the intermarrying of ideas. This is the natural sequence of events. We are all better for it; it is fundamentally American. But sometimes the effort of innovation itself is just empty exertion, unspirited and unreal, bearing bad fruit. Cryptacize, of course, shirks all such ambition and seeks instead to “know thyself.” The record speaks of something much more present, in a careful tone, with the considerate enumeration of an enlightened monk who, after spending countless hours in isolation, in prayer, in thought, in meditation, decides instead to leave the monastery to play jazz guitar at Bibbi’s Bar and Grill on Main Street. Yes, of course, I’d go to that show.