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Dig That Treasure

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Album Review

"Every note is an unfinished song," Cryptacize sing on their debut album, Dig That Treasure, and it's an apt description of their sound. Chris Cohen, Nedelle Torrisi, and Michael Carreira specialize in surreal indie pop songs that aren't unfinished so much as open-ended, taking unusual melodic paths and avoiding obvious hooks along the way. It's an approach similar to the one Cohen and Torrisi took on Curtains' Calamity — and while Dig That Treasure is even more polished than that album was, the album's clean, spacious sound only makes these songs more singular. Cryptacize's music borders on minimalism, but it never feels stripped-down or less than it should be; instead, every bit of music the band makes takes on larger proportions thanks to the depth and space surrounding it. On "Stop Watch," Torrisi's pure, clear voice floats atop autoharps and Cohen's simmering guitars, landing in what sounds like a field of ringing alarm clocks until Carreira's tick-tocking wood block shakes her out of her reverie. For a song that laments time's inevitable passing, its suite-like movements do a remarkable job of bending time to the band's whims. Since Cryptacize generally shun forcefully rhythmic guitars and drums, their songs have a distinctive, free-flowing momentum, as on "Cosmic Sing-A-Long," where cowbells, fuzzy guitars, and lilting harmonies go as they please — but, as the title suggests, they fall neatly into place, even if those places aren't the expected ones. Vignettes like the pocket symphony "Water Witching Wishes" and "Willpower" have melodies that sound like they've been culled from show tunes or traditional songs, and even when the guitars and drums flare up on "The Shape Above," the effect is still gently cheerful. In fact, most of Dig That Treasure is so sunny that the few sad moments are even more surprising: "No Coins" compares a barren garden to a barren relationship, and Torrisi sighs "Love for its own sake/Does not a marriage make" on "We'll Never Dream Again." Even when the album's cheer falters, it's still full of strangely sweet, thoughtful songs, and it feels like the band is inviting listeners along on musical adventures. Dig That Treasure's excursions might be too cryptic for some, but more often than not, its unpredictable journeys are just as satisfying as an immediately catchy destination.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Cryptacize's elliptical, experimental indie pop isn't all that cryptic, considering the involvement of former Deerhoof guitarist Chris Cohen and playful vocalist/instrumentalist Nedelle Torrisi. The pair first collaborated on Cohen's Curtains project, with Torrisi chipping in vocals on 2006's Calamity. Cohen and Torrisi discovered percussionist Michael Carreira via a video of him playing cowbell on YouTube. After recruiting Carreira, the trio became Cryptacize, and began playing and recording in...
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Dig That Treasure, Cryptacize
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