Escapism is the key element which has inspired Crywolf to create Cataclasm. Venturing into the unknown, only looking ahead and resting his hopes on some kind of rewarding experience was his aim. Few are brave enough to even consider a challenge like this, and even fewer succeed.
Crywolf is not one of these artists as he states “You have to become before you can create”. By excluding and essentially voluntarily exiling himself in a small Icelandic village, Crywolf began his search for creativity and identity. If you want an insight into the making of Cataclasm and the life changing experience Crywolf underwent, then look no further than his Youtube channel which presents a series of videos documenting his pursuit of creative aspirations.
Crywolf notes the main obstacle shared by many in this often brutal line of work “of all the difficulties facing artists, sustaining creativity seems to be the hardest. Inspiration comes and goes with the wind, seemingly out of nowhere”. People familiar to his the name ‘Crywolf’ certainly won’t be familiar to the sound he now produces. Despite the fact that the term EDM encompasses such an eclectic mix of electronic sounds that are indeed present in Cataclasm, I personally believe labelling it as EDM would be an insult.
It’s way more than that! It is true that glimpses of his music history resonate throughout, with a thumping musical partnership giving tracks a momentous boost. But the essence of the album lies with an underlying unprocessed soft template brought into being by vocal harmonisation, distorted yet melodic instrumentation and the ground shaking electronic upsurges of energy.
Split into three Acts, this is no normal album which flows from start to finish. This is an expression of artistic belief. Crywolf is trying to convey a message to the listener that what they’re about to witness is a cinematic musical journey, full of an array of emotions, themes and thought provoking sentiments.
Comparable to the dawn of a new day, the atmosphere is initially set with the sounds of birds chirping in the background of intro tack “Act One: The Queen of Fiji“. This relaxed beginning welcomes the acoustic guitar to join in, combined with Crywolf’s soothing vocals. For those living in Crywolf’s past, prepare yourself to be taken off guard but also pleasantly surprised with the voice which will accompany you into the unknown. The album finds its sound with the beautiful progression into “Wake [E-bow]“.
This first act deals with the beginnings of a relationship and the investment of your heart and soul in this new bond. The sound explodes to life in “Wake [E-bow]” harmoniously uniting the theme with powerful melodic waves of sounds which immerses the listener completely. Speaking about the track, Crywolf claims “the feeling it gave me was one of the most beautiful I have ever felt. It was like a religious experience. It brought me close to tears a few times. For the first time, I saw the world as profoundly beautiful“.
His incredible production skills and his stunning vocal work continues to be heard throughout the album. His ability to fuse his electronic world with his delicate falsetto voice bemuses me. But it is the surprise at the end of “Rising, Rising” which truly astonished me. Lasting only one minute at the end of the track, Crywolf bravely experiments with a harp and some accompanying strings to peacefully conclude the track. I can’t think of any other song which takes such a drastically ingenious step to produce a wonderfully untapped sound.
Act Two commences with a moving rendition of an Icelandic hymn entitled “Heyr Himma Smiour“. “A Shattering F# Minor” displays Crywolf’s mind-blowingly flexible vocal work, deservedly facilitating a chorale sound into the variety of genres included on this album. Dead centre in the middle of the album, one could argue that “Slow Burn” is the heart and soul of the musical journey. Neo-soul meets R&B meets indie dance to produce this empowering number which will send you into a dream like state.
Crywolf breaks down all vocal boundaries in this powerful electronic ballad, distorting his voice in a unique robotic style and being more than willing to go full falsetto. Crywolf states: “Slow Burn is about the imprint a person leaves on you after they are gone… The particular shape of their absence. The realization that they are now just as defined by that absence as they once were by their presence. They are gone, but they won’t leave. Burrowed deep in your head, swimming around through your synapses… A nostalgia so strong that it’s painful“.
Crywolf’s most refined sound takes place in Act Three with track “Akureyri“, which opens with a moody synthesisers, vulnerable vocals and faint piano notes sustaining a calm ambiance. This is until the track builds and transforms into a booming ballad, abandoning tranquillity and replacing it with bang after bang. The song was inspired by a series of dreams Crywolf had in which an ex-girlfriend slowly faded away.
While he tried to grasp onto her, “she was willingly going with it”. Phillips tells Consequence of Sound the dream gave him, “The gut wrenching feeling of loss, along with the tranquility that comes from finally accepting it. That was the strangest part about it – the juxtaposition of such disparate feelings. The day I wrote this song, I woke up with that feeling thick on my mind, and I knew I had to get it out“.
Cataclasm is an incredibly inspiring album which stirs your emotions from start to finish. It is clear that every little detail was heavily thought out to perfection and performed exactly as they should be. Crywolf took a risk, and it certainly paid off. This is one hell of an artistic achievement that fellow music makers should look up to for guidance or simply to enjoy. Out now on Okami Records, purchase Crywolf’s Cataclasm on iTunes here.
Words by Finn Brownbill