The second in six months; second in a planned series of several and already there’s progressive development in sound and standard. This is the sequel to EP† by the collective ††† (Crosses). A trio that may be two thirds better known as Chino Moreno of Deftones, and Shaun Lopez of influential post-hardcore/alt rock band Far.
This fairly under the radar side-project, given the personnel at work here, came to light last year with the release of their first EP in August. Moreno and Lopez, childhood friends and neighbours, joined by Scott Chuck, threw themselves into this project; jamming and recording for several hours every day, with the end result being enough songs for a series of self released EPs.
EP† introduced those in the know to the music of Crosses, and quite the introduction it was. Five tracks of beat driven alternative electronica swaying between harsh, fuzzy synths and a haunting serenity akin to that on display on Diamond Eyes’ lighter moments, of course enhanced by the ever brilliant vocal performance of Chino Moreno. Though predominantly electronically influenced and sounding, Lopez and Moreno still let their rockier leanings fuse into their new sound with the occasional driven riff, giving an almost industrial stomp to †his Is A †rick, and some sparse and melodic guitar lines, helping add to the ambience and atmosphere laid down by the synths, beats production.
With EP†† the trio, each represented by their individual †, take their already solid sound and develop it further, and better yet; improve upon it. Though each EP could be mix and matched together to make an amazing album, what Crosses have done with this EP is taken the subtle melodies and choruses that ran through the first EP’s darker ambience and brought them to the fore, and brought them to a brilliant fruition.
Fron†iers starts things off like a stripper in a haunted dive bar; phantom chords are met by a slow grinding bass that’s equal parts sex appeal as it is fuzz. This bass comes and goes between minimalist interludes and inaudible communications chatter before we meet the EPs first big chorus lifting the song from the gutter to the stars, sold by a passionate vocal performance.
Prurien† follows on quickly as the lead single of this release, and you can see why the moment the chorus hits. The lead up to it is a soft and subtle melodic interplay between Chino’s vocals and some big melancholic chords slowly building, then it arrives maintaining the subtlety of the song up to this point but lifting it with instrumental layers and a beautiful melody. The song continues to build from here with each chorus delivering impact than the one before it, and hell there’s a guitar solo too.
With the guitar, synth and bass intro of †elepa†hy, things seem to initially take on an 80s feel, coming across like Depeche Mode but then the layers build and that bass transforms into something that could have strutted right off of Justice’s first album; sexy, funky and swaggering under the heaven bound soaring synths. That synthy 80s theme carries through to the start of †rophy, accompanied by sparse clean guitar before it fills out and comes to sound somewhere between Pink Floyd and sombre synthesized church song, with Chino’s vocals hushed and fading further away.
Closer to the EP, 1987, continues down this path, taking their sound to its most sombre serenity, with the lyrics portrait of a death, the instrumentation coming across like a requiem and Chino fading further into the mix as everything swells and swirls around before… silence.
The layers are lush, the melodies haunting, the atmosphere beautiful; a side project shouldn’t be this good. This is no affair of mutual vanities, this is a musical collective that will be as keenly followed as the day jobs of its most known members, and with a series of EPs planned, there’ll be plenty more to follow.