I didn't know what to expect what I first spun this new album from Cross Record. Wabi-Sabi drops next Friday (January 29) via Ba Da Bing Records and it's one of the most pleasant surprises in a season of high quality music. Emily Cross, the main creative force behind Cross Record, crafts large music that breathes and evolves as it unfolds in waves of sound. Tough to categorize this? Yeah. Yeah, it is.
For example, the wonderfully-titled "Something Unseen Touches a Flower to My Forehead" offers up a sort of gentle, plaintive tune that wouldn't have been entirely out of place on an old Sandy Denny record, while "Wasp in a Jar", on the other hand, throbs with the sort of menace not heard since Jarboe joined Swans. That makes some sense as Thor Harris is on this album and he has, of course, worked with Swans, as well as Bill Callahan. Elsewhere, "High Rise" echoes Cranes, while "Basket" conjures up memories of the 2nd and 3rd albums from 4AD collective This Mortal Coil.
Emily Cross makes bold, somewhat stark, music and it's music that rewards a careful listener. Challenging without being abrasive, beautiful without being easy mood music, fans of late period Cocteau Twins, Julie Cruise, Dead Can Dance, and even Bjork should find much to appreciate here.
Wabi-Sabi by Cross Record is out on Friday, January 29, 2016 via Ba Da Bing Records.