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Home / Articles / Music / Music Articles /  Music | Messing With the Formula: Cryptacize combines classical structures with pop conventions
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Music | Messing With the Formula: Cryptacize combines classical structures with pop conventions

By Jeff Inman
Posted // April 2,2008 - Basically, Nedelle Torrisi was lonely. That’s the easy way to explain her new band Cryptacize. The official explanation: Well, that involves a convoluted press release, an apartment that may or may not have been as crooked as a canyon road, and sugar—lots and lots of sugar. It takes a doctorate in psychiatry or psychology or some kind of –ology to fully understand, and even then, it still probably won’t make much sense. Plus, you’ll have to use the word ethereal as more of a state of being than a simple adjective. So, it’s probably safer to stick with Torrisi’s version.

And it’s the truth—at least as close to reality as Cryptacize likes to get. She was lonely. And who wouldn’t be? While Torrisi has spent the last few years doing the guest-spot rounds, playing with everyone from Xui Xui to John Vanderslice, she was primarily a solo artist. She had a few records out, including last year’s mellow and enticing The Locksmith Cometh (Kill Rock Stars). She toured by herself. It got old.

“I just got a little bit tired of writing songs alone and touring alone,” she admits. “It’s such a lonely endeavor.”

But that changed when she met Chris Cohen, guitarist for indie legends Deerhoof. She was opening. They talked. Things clicked. Torrisi knew she wasn’t going to be lonely anymore. “When we met, we had such an appreciation for each other that we basically had to collaborate,” she says. “It wasn’t even a choice. We had to be a part of each other’s songs.”

There was the getting-to-know-you period, of course. Cohen had decided to leave behind Deerhoof to concentrate on his other group, The Curtains. He asked Torrisi to join the band to help flesh out its sound. While on the road, the two talked endlessly—about music, about songwriting, about how you can say as much with nearly nothing as you can a wall of noise. By the time The Curtains wrapped up its tour, the two had a band name and a goal—one that went far beyond the normal confines of pop.

“We wanted our music to be more like chamber music,” Torrisi says. “We wanted it to breathe. We’ve pieced together so many things that normally would work in one song, we have these little mini-movements—things you don’t hear in rock music.”

She’s not kidding. Cryptacize’s debut Dig that Treasure (Atomic Kitty), is anything but typical. Example: Opener “Stop Watch,” which starts with a swell of reverb and thunder, before fading into nothing but Torrisi and her autoharp. Then, a few seconds later, things shift. There are harmonies usually reserved for myths; guitars that were plucked right out of a Twin Peaks dream sequence; lyrics that are about as clear as watching a movie through a piece of gauze. And it gets even more unusual. By the end of Dig that Treasure, you’ll have dashed through everything from stark folk splashed with Broadway melodies to indie rock lullabies to stuff that can’t even be confined by the word atmospheric. Standouts like “Heaven is Human” make you skip like a 6-year-old. Others, like “Water Witching Wishes,” which features Cohen on vocals, take you places that pop forgot about decades ago.

And for some, that’s a problem. “There are those people who come to the show because of what Chris or I have done before and just want to dance and bob their heads, and they don’t like it,” she says. Which, when she was out on the road by herself, probably would have bothered Torrisi. Now she just laughs it off—“Everyone likes something a little different,” she says—because she knows she’s got backup.

“Being in a band is a totally new experience for me,” she says. “Maybe I’m being all joyful and naïve about it, but sometimes, it’s just nice having other people around.”

CRYPTACIZE @ Kilby Court, 741 S. 330 West, Thursday April 3, 7 p.m. 24Tix.com

 

 
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