The talented American gives us yet another dark collection to unravel
Chris Wirsig‘s The 13 Crystal Skulls is a truly unique album. There’s nothing like it, and that’s a testament to Wirsig’s artistic vision; whereas many artists would add in a cheap club beat in an attempt to make the album more ‘current’ (and, perhaps, some guest vocals to fill out the impressive roster of talents on the album), Chris Wirsig shuns modern convention and gives us the true raw emotion in all of its darkly composed glory. Inspired by the legend of the crystal skulls, it’s an intriguing collection of thirteen instrumental tracks that delve deep into the dark psychological musings that were the trademarks of Wirsig‘s previous band, no:carrier.
The album opens with the haunting Crystal Skull 1- Overture. It embraces the creepy and unnerving combination of a dark grand piano and sustained wind echoes, and acts as more of a drone instrument than a song that journeys. This makes it a great introduction to the album’s subdued soundscapes, and a fantastic opener to the album.
It’s less about the choruses and all about the feelings
Crystal Skull 2- Ghosts Of The Aztecs is as beautiful as it is deep. The song has layers upon layers of sounds that give it a ready-for-the-big screen feel, and it’s here that the roots of its effectiveness can be found. Indeed, there is both sadness and hope weaved into this track, as if what was lost can still be found, and that perhaps finding that lost thing might not be the best outcome. Elsewhere, the album’s sixth track Watching Eyes feels very much like its name suggests. Ominous sound effects are added overtop a constant synth rhythm that plays slight piano hits throughout the track, and it’s hard not to feel a general uneasiness when you’re listening to it. One thing is for sure: Chris Wirsig knows how to capture the essence of the feeling he is trying to expose.
There’s nothing else quite like it
This album is a bit of a double-edged sword, a bit of a two-way mirror, and a bit of a hit and a miss. On one hand, it has great ambition and focus, and yet, on the other hand, it doesn’t go far enough in the musical journey. Where it can be applauded for stripping down the beat to offer us a unique musical experience, it can also be criticised for lacking the necessary musical punch to truly shine. For many this will be a hard pill to swallow, but for those that love ambient music in the way of Brian Eno or Trent Reznor, this will be something new for them to swallow, and prove to be potentially inspirational to their own creative processes.