Two years ago, Emily Cross decamped from Chicago to the remote, idyllic town of Dripping Springs, TX with her husband, Dan Duszynski, who together form Cross Record. They rented a ranch that covers 18 acres, has a chicken coop and is located next to a bird sanctuary. Between 60-hour workweeks at restaurants, supermarkets, and nannying, she composed an album that absorbs any workaday commonalities and shaped them into her smoky, atmospheric second album, Wabi-Sabi.
Recorded throughout 2014 and into 2015 at the couple’s own Moon Phase Ranch, Wabi-Sabi is a crystallization of Cross’ past music and her passion for art (she studied at the Burren College of Art in Ireland). For example, the scorpions on the cover of Wabi-Sabi (see album cover image below) were found in her bathtub (something she definitely had not experienced before living in Texas) and photographed by her, and she regularly draws and paints in a nook above the studio.
The way we interact and adapt to different and strange environments is a theme that permeates throughout Wabi-Sabi. Most recording was done in the early and late hours of the day, with loons cawing in the distance thanks to that bird sanctuary. The ambiance of twilight evenings and orange dawns formed the heart and soul of Wabi-Sabi. The album contrasts Cross’ wispy, silvery singing and minimal presentation with the dark intensity of booming drums, thick guitar and destabilized electronics. It’s a record that can be loud, stirring and unsettling, but also quietly still and serene. Dusynski produced and engineered the record, alongside production from one of Cross’ close friends Theo Karon, while Austin-based musician Thor Harris (Swans, Bill Callahan) also contributed.