The SF-based band, Cryptacize, a branch from the Deerhoof family tree, has definitely grown and solidified with its sophomore release, Mythomania. It's an angular, oddly melodic and engaging piece of work, expanding upon its preceding 2007 release, Dig That Treasure, the band's spare, more minimal debut. Founded by former Deerhoof guitarist Chris Cohen, Cryptacize bears a similarity to his former band's eccentric musical approach, combining avant-garde jazz, experimental and pop elements.
After working together on another of Cohen's musical projects, Curtains, instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Nedelle Torrisi and Cohen teamed up with percussionist Michael Carreira to form Cryptacize. Torrisi, who released two solo recordings on Kill Rock Stars, brings her sweet, melodic vocals to the forefront, reminiscent, at times, in delivery to David Lynch favorite Julee Cruise, but without the reverb-drenched, creepy lounge feel. Mythomania is too hyper for that.
It kicks off with the off-kilter tango of "Tell & Mane," with frenetic Greek folk-like guitar lines, and you instantly understand that this is no mere clever pop; it often teeters to sound nearly imbalanced. The sharp corners that Cryptacize take on each song remain steady, however, accentuating their precision as a band. Mythomania has a live, "dry" sound throughout, essentially consisting of guitars, vocals and drums/percussion, with a minimal amount of keyboards, bass and other assorted instruments providing color.
From the jagged rhythms of "The Cage" to the melancholic "What You Can't See Is" (featuring Cohen on lead vocals) to the perverse take on Brian Wilson in the record's title track, there's a heavy influence of the eccentric side of '60s psychedelia that brings to mind the rediscovered Midwestern band Pisces, whose excellent reissue, Pisces: A Lovely Sight, was recently released by The Numero Group. There are also songs such as "Blue Tears" that have a '60s Asian "freakbeat" sound, similar to fellow SF-based band Dengue Fever.
Guitarist/vocalist Cohen, who contributed on some of Deerhoof's strongest releases, including Apple O' (2003) and The Runners Four (2005), never pushes this band to reach a "psyche-out" moment, as existed on the two aforementioned Deerhoof releases. And, in some regard, a more subdued approach is refreshing -- but there are moments in this recording, "The Cage" for example, that beg for the band to let go and run over the edges a bit more, to develop the songs more fully. And perhaps because of a short attention span, Cryptacize's offering of 11 songs only add up to barely 40 minutes. Aside from these small beefs, Mythomania is a strangely subtle and adventuresome release of contemporary psychedelia. It also may be true that Cryptacize's "apple," distinct in its flavor, doesn't fall far from the tree.