Chris Wirsig - The 13 Crystal Skulls
Darkwave, Classical Brutal Resonance has been following Chris Wirsig’s darkwave project no:carrier since last year when he premiered his weird and wild album of covers, Ghosts of the West Coast on our illustrious digital rag. Leading with a single and video covering “The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley in his own “electro noir” style, this album really got the attention of the darkwave community. Just shy of a year later, Wirsig is back with a new album of original work, to be released on May 13. The 13 Crystal Skulls is an all-instrumental interpretation of the legend of the Crystal Skulls, the controversial carvings believed to be of ancient Mesoamerican origin.

The story of the Crystal Skulls is murky at best. Their legend claims that these 13 quartz carvings of skulls were discovered at Chichen Itza near Cancun, Mexico. Mystics assert that they have esoteric significance, if not actual magic powers. Regardless of what is believed by whom and how valid those beliefs may be, the Skulls have certainly worked their way into our cultural consciousness. Countless texts have been written on them; historical, metaphysical and even scientific. They are alluded to in pop culture as well, being the subject of many fictional works and movies, most notably the Indiana Jones series.

Chris Wirsig’s take on these iconic symbols, based on his description of The 13 Crystal Skulls, seems to take all of Skulls’ legend and folklore into account. To wit: "The skulls are often claimed to exhibit paranormal phenomena. Although their origins are controversial, the Crystal Skulls are and have been a popular subject appearing in numerous sci-fi television series, novels, films, and video games." The feeling connoted by his work, however, seems to be firmly on the side of believing in said folklore. With moody echo effects, classical composition and a style unique even against the loose format of darkwave, Wirsig proves with this album that the Crystal Skulls are just as powerful as a musical piece as the legend which surrounds them.

Each track on The 13 Crystal Skulls is designed around a concept relating to the Crystal Skulls themselves. The album seems to follow a sort of timeline beginning with the inception of and rituals surrounding these supposed Aztec relics. From “Overture” and “Ceremony in Tenochtitlan” to “The Shaman’s Lore” to “Excavation,” “Ghosts of the Maya” and “The Lost Artifact,” the album intends to follow the purported journey of the skulls via music.

All the songs on this album are eerie and minor-keyed and contain a lot of sine wave-style modes, but within that framework many different tones and styles exist. The album opens with “Overture.” Wirsig’s classical training comes in here format-wise as well as in actual style. As in an extended classical piece, “Overture” introduces the listener to some of the sounds which will be prevalent throughout the album. Discordant classical piano and the sine wave tones and Moog-like electronic sounds which swell and retract are featured here. As an allegory, “Overture” may also speak to the rituals and religions which allegedly led up to the creation of the skulls.

Continuing the trajectory of the Skulls’ history, “Ceremony in Tenochtitlan” likely signifies the ritual which may have conceived the skulls. There is a beat in this song which is recognizable as darkwave or industrial, but the melodies vary quite a bit in style and are done in sections. An 80s-inspired electronic melody floats through the beginning before being replaced by a creepy antique piano melody and then, oddly, an 80s butt rock guitar riff. Wirsig ties all these bits together to create something resembling an 80s darkwave or emo song, but not quite.

“Carved Legend” is one of the highlights of The 13 Crystal Skulls. The album’s fifth song is entirely electronic and while just as eerie as the rest but it has pretty, almost hopeful element. It starts with no real beat, only the requisite sine waves. Another set of wave-like tones add a harmony as the track slowly builds. A beautiful glockenspiel melody (or electronic facsimile) is introduced about halfway through the track; tingly and high-pitched, it makes “Carved Legend” unique as part of this album. In the context of the Crystal Skulls, Wirsig may be trying to connote the energy of the Skulls: eerie, mysterious and high-vibration all at once.

The album ends with the 13th track, “The Lost Artifact.” This track is quite unique also in some of its composition. An ambient and changing industrial element combines with classical piano and then a full compliment of strings toward the middle. It’s a fitting closing to an album which explores all the possible history, feelings, energy and lore surrounding the Crystal Skulls. The legend continues despite many of the actual Skulls being lost, and this track seems to be imbibed with hope that the legend will not also be lost in time.

It is difficult to describe the experience of The 13 Crystal Skulls track by track, because really it should be experienced in its entirety. So many thoughts, ideas, emotions, techniques and styles are put into this album, and each track contributes to that narrative. Wirsig has released a streaming track each week for the past seven weeks, allowing the story to be told slowly, but the full album really needs to be experienced all at once. May 13 is the date, don’t miss it.





4
Brutal Resonance

Chris Wirsig - The 13 Crystal Skulls

8.0
"Great"
N/A
Electroracle
Released off label 2016
Brutal Resonance has been following Chris Wirsig’s darkwave project no:carrier since last year when he premiered his weird and wild album of covers, Ghosts of the West Coast on our illustrious digital rag. Leading with a single and video covering “The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley in his own “electro noir” style, this album really got the attention of the darkwave community. Just shy of a year later, Wirsig is back with a new album of original work, to be released on May 13. The 13 Crystal Skulls is an all-instrumental interpretation of the legend of the Crystal Skulls, the controversial carvings believed to be of ancient Mesoamerican origin.

The story of the Crystal Skulls is murky at best. Their legend claims that these 13 quartz carvings of skulls were discovered at Chichen Itza near Cancun, Mexico. Mystics assert that they have esoteric significance, if not actual magic powers. Regardless of what is believed by whom and how valid those beliefs may be, the Skulls have certainly worked their way into our cultural consciousness. Countless texts have been written on them; historical, metaphysical and even scientific. They are alluded to in pop culture as well, being the subject of many fictional works and movies, most notably the Indiana Jones series.

Chris Wirsig’s take on these iconic symbols, based on his description of The 13 Crystal Skulls, seems to take all of Skulls’ legend and folklore into account. To wit: "The skulls are often claimed to exhibit paranormal phenomena. Although their origins are controversial, the Crystal Skulls are and have been a popular subject appearing in numerous sci-fi television series, novels, films, and video games." The feeling connoted by his work, however, seems to be firmly on the side of believing in said folklore. With moody echo effects, classical composition and a style unique even against the loose format of darkwave, Wirsig proves with this album that the Crystal Skulls are just as powerful as a musical piece as the legend which surrounds them.

Each track on The 13 Crystal Skulls is designed around a concept relating to the Crystal Skulls themselves. The album seems to follow a sort of timeline beginning with the inception of and rituals surrounding these supposed Aztec relics. From “Overture” and “Ceremony in Tenochtitlan” to “The Shaman’s Lore” to “Excavation,” “Ghosts of the Maya” and “The Lost Artifact,” the album intends to follow the purported journey of the skulls via music.

All the songs on this album are eerie and minor-keyed and contain a lot of sine wave-style modes, but within that framework many different tones and styles exist. The album opens with “Overture.” Wirsig’s classical training comes in here format-wise as well as in actual style. As in an extended classical piece, “Overture” introduces the listener to some of the sounds which will be prevalent throughout the album. Discordant classical piano and the sine wave tones and Moog-like electronic sounds which swell and retract are featured here. As an allegory, “Overture” may also speak to the rituals and religions which allegedly led up to the creation of the skulls.

Continuing the trajectory of the Skulls’ history, “Ceremony in Tenochtitlan” likely signifies the ritual which may have conceived the skulls. There is a beat in this song which is recognizable as darkwave or industrial, but the melodies vary quite a bit in style and are done in sections. An 80s-inspired electronic melody floats through the beginning before being replaced by a creepy antique piano melody and then, oddly, an 80s butt rock guitar riff. Wirsig ties all these bits together to create something resembling an 80s darkwave or emo song, but not quite.

“Carved Legend” is one of the highlights of The 13 Crystal Skulls. The album’s fifth song is entirely electronic and while just as eerie as the rest but it has pretty, almost hopeful element. It starts with no real beat, only the requisite sine waves. Another set of wave-like tones add a harmony as the track slowly builds. A beautiful glockenspiel melody (or electronic facsimile) is introduced about halfway through the track; tingly and high-pitched, it makes “Carved Legend” unique as part of this album. In the context of the Crystal Skulls, Wirsig may be trying to connote the energy of the Skulls: eerie, mysterious and high-vibration all at once.

The album ends with the 13th track, “The Lost Artifact.” This track is quite unique also in some of its composition. An ambient and changing industrial element combines with classical piano and then a full compliment of strings toward the middle. It’s a fitting closing to an album which explores all the possible history, feelings, energy and lore surrounding the Crystal Skulls. The legend continues despite many of the actual Skulls being lost, and this track seems to be imbibed with hope that the legend will not also be lost in time.

It is difficult to describe the experience of The 13 Crystal Skulls track by track, because really it should be experienced in its entirety. So many thoughts, ideas, emotions, techniques and styles are put into this album, and each track contributes to that narrative. Wirsig has released a streaming track each week for the past seven weeks, allowing the story to be told slowly, but the full album really needs to be experienced all at once. May 13 is the date, don’t miss it.





May 01 2016

Off label

Official release released by the artist themselves without the backing of a label.

Layla Marino

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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Started in spring 2009, Brutal Resonance quickly grew from a Swedish based netzine into an established International zine of the highest standard.

We cover genres like Synthpop, EBM, Industrial, Dark Ambient, Neofolk, Darkwave, Noise and all their sub- and similar genres.

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