Sometimes the best things in life are free. A phrase usually reserved for the more existential things in life, it applies to the more material music world this month with the release of a free EP by side project †††(Crosses) from the dynamo team of Deftones lead singer Chino Moreno and Far guitarist and producer Shaun Lopez. While it may be a scant 18 minutes, it’s some of the best minimalistic yet cinematic music you will hear all year.
For years it’s been increasingly clear that Chino has a softer side. This was first hinted at in Around The Fur’s “Mascara” and it only become increasingly clear on White Pony and Deftones, with tracks like “Teenager” and “Lucky You.” Then he released his first side project called Team Sleep and the secret was out—he loves trip hop and ambient electronic music. A devout fan of The Cure and Depeche Mode, he even once said his favorite records are ones he can fall asleep to. Those influences have finally risen to the surface in a beautiful way.
Hot on the heels of a creative peak with Diamond Eyes and a subsequent extensive and successful tour, he returns to mine the same darkly textured pastures of Team Sleep. Only this time, there’s more of a focus on minimalism, atmosphere and haunting imagery. The EP sputters to life with “†his Is A †rick ,” as a repeated synth line and beat propel breathy vocals until the track explodes into a cathartic blast of guitar and beats in the chorus as Chino wails, “this is a trick!” It’s catchy in the best possible of ways and inspires body movement the way an opening track should.
“Op †ion” positively smolders, eventually giving way to a euphoric chorus as there is mention of swearing on the cross and taking his name to the grave; this distinctly morbid imagery will continue like a thread running through this release. The bridge has softly plucked acoustic guitar before returning to the chorus—brimming with passionate vocals. It bleeds seamlessly into “Bermuda Locke†,” where Chino comes the closest yet to evoking the stark, erotic feel of the best Depeche Mode songs. Sensuality and atmosphere are paramount as he coos about releasing demons and bringing dreams to life.
With eerie sounds akin to something from a 90s Portishead song, “†hholyghs†” creeps to life as the subject is told that the narrator is a “ghost in human shape” crawling into her as the horror movie atmospherics build into a chugging Deftones-esque chorus that blissfully soars despite singing that they will “fall asleep by the graves.”Such maudlin imagery has never induced such a fist-pumping, hands-in-the-air feeling of elation. It’s arguably the best track on the EP and probably the best introductory song for those solely used to Chino in Deftones mode. Rounding out the venture is an instrumental only titled “†.”A simple song built on a fairly repetitive structure; it’s a perfect way to ease the listener out of this somewhat Gothic but wholly rewarding experience. This EP is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys Team Sleep, trip-hop or ambient electronic music. Even Deftones fans would be wise to check this out since it’s free. With so little cost with boundless potential benefit, why not?
The EP is free for all at their official website: http://www.crossesmusic.com. For those who want a little more or want to support the group, a mere $5 will provide access to a superior sounding lossless audio download in a variety of formats, along with a PDF of artwork and hand-written lyrics.
Written by Jarad Matula