Cryptacize deals in the unforgettable melody, the forsaken chord and the extravagant sentiment. It’s a distinct kind of pleasure they offer, not casual background or ‘lifestyle’ music. An unlikely synthesis of musical styles, Mythomania (Cryptacize’s second) is an album not quite like any other. Nedelle Torrisi’s surefooted and richly nuanced vocal arabesques, like a modern day Freddie Mercury or Ronnie Spector, strangely complement Chris Cohen’s guitar, maniacally sped-up a la Les Paul or staccato and funny like Roy Smeck or Adolph Jacobs of the Coasters. Michael Carreira’s syncopated drum corps rudiments and pit-orchestra rave-ups propel the songs with a refreshingly buoyant touch that never lapses into rock music cliches. There are also widescreen cinematic moments that take on a mournful and otherworldly pathos, like Henry Mancini’s “Experiment in Terror” but with vocals by Cambodian 60’s pop legend Ros Serey Sothea – or like Arabic diva Fairouz singing along to a psychedelic film score by Popol Vuh.
Mythomania is a revelation by anyone’s measure. The playing shows a new level of confidence and intent, as well as an artful sense of timing – it’s the sound of a band that’s found themselves and is growing by leaps and bounds. Patiently built ideas are brought to full fruition, and it’s recorded in fidelity that surrounds you. The music is thicker and more continuous; in addition to autoharp, guitars and drums there are now electric basses, keyboards, piano, even found or purely electronic sounds. And yet the same sense of space and suspense which guided 2008’s Dig That Treasure is instantly recognizable on Mythomania. In fact, the contrast between emptiness and fullness seems even greater now, just as the music’s emotional highs and lows have been brought into abnormally high relief.
As the title Mythomania suggests, reality is transformed when fiction is created upon fiction and though it may be barely recognizable or compatible with the world of the everyday, this reality can also be beautiful – see for example the album’s title track, an allegorical tale about the moon’s view of earthly folly. Exploring the paradox of human perception, a personal ambivalence about time and change, the notions of chance and free will versus those of eternalism and fate, the limits of credibility and belief, Mythomania builds upon the philosophical concerns of Dig That Treasure. Like its predecessor, its tone is often both happy and sad, pragmatic and mystical, hopeful and doomed.
Never ones to follow the rules, Cryptacize have been touring the US in a Toyota Corolla (opening for bands as diverse as Why?, Danielson, Shearwater, Ponytail, Magik Markers, Marnie Stern, The Blow, Mirah, etc.) performing using miniature amps and drums – a sight which has caught many a spectator off guard. They are a thoroughly unconventional band, but one that is somehow miraculously easy on the ears. Deceptively simple, using modest means to achieve ambitious ends, never predictable, Cryptacize challenges preconceptions about how a song should go or how rock music should make you feel. But in the end, they always leave you with a tune you can hum and lyrics that tell a story.
Recorded by Cryptacize in a cabin near Yosemite over the summer of 2008.