By Zachary Swickey
One of the best things about today’s modern music world is the ease with which bands are able to record. Previously, bands would need to hoard bookoo cash in order to get precious studio time and present a professional sounding album. The line between amateur and professional has become radically blurred, and with major labels becoming more and more unnecessary when it comes to releasing a record, creativity has never flourished as much as it is today (just look at the output of Nine Inch Nails during their final, label-free years). Case-in-point, Crosses – or technically †††, which is not be confused with the Justice album, † – the new side project of Deftones crooner Chino Moreno. A band that probably wouldn’t be possible if they had to deal with the obstacles that music labels can often present.
Crosses is the brainchild between Moreno, his childhood friend (and ex-Far guitarist) Shaun Lopez and Chuck Doom. Lopez is also notable for salvaging the fifth Deftones record, Saturday Night Wrist, when he took over vocal production duties due to Moreno not seeing eye-to-eye with the effort’s legendary producer, Bob Ezrin. Moreno has also tackled side projects before with the ambient sounds of Team Sleep, who released one self-titled (and totally kickass) record back in 2005.
Moreno took his fans off guard with the release of Crosses’ debut EP, †, on August 2. No one was expecting to hear music from the project so soon or so inexpensively (only $5 for a high-quality download). Without the concerns of a label, Crosses are able to take as little or as much time on their recordings and can release them whenever the heck they feel like it, which is music to fans’ ears (pun intended) as labels are known to sit on albums for up to six months (and sometimes shelve them altogether).
While not a radical departure from that of Team Sleep, Moreno’s wide range of vocal abilities are fully on display, from the subdued to the extreme. The EP kicks things off with the bumbin’, dubstep-esque “†his is a †rick,” which is the hardest-hitting track and has bass lines provided by none other than Duff McKagan (ex-bassist of Velvet Revolver and Guns N’ Roses). The haunting, “†hholyghs†” may sound like a simple tune, but the subtle background nuances create a great spooky atmosphere around the song until its soaring chorus kicks in. The music takes a turn for the seductive with “Bermuda Locke†” as Moreno softly serenades, “I wanna move you somewhere close to ecstasy / I might tell you things of which you won’t believe.” Moreno has always been one of rock’s most eloquent performers with his poetic-like delivery, and the variety of sounds from Crosses allows him to show off his vocal diversity.
Moreno’s music playlists have brought many bands to my attention (Fever Ray, Max Essa, Bohren and der Club of Gore), so it’s rather fitting that † sounds like a melting pot of influences. Crosses reportedly intend on releasing their 16 (so far) recorded tracks through a series of online EPs. To hold you over, you can catch another new track (and one of their finest), “The Years,” on the upcoming video game, “Batman: Arkham Asylum.”