After a short turnaround, Australian music legend Darren Cross has returned with a brand new record; an instrumental release under the name D.C Cross.
Ask any musician or fan, and they will likely agree that for an artist to record an instrumental album is something of an ambitious move. After all, to deliver a record void of lyrics after many years of delivering the former is a big stylistic change which could divide opinions along the way.
Thankfully though, Darren Cross is no stranger to evolving or taking risks when it comes to music. Having risen to fame as a member of Gerling throughout the ’90s, the band’s dissolution gave Cross the opportunity to focus on other projects since then.
Over the years, we’ve seen his name attached to the likes of The E.L.F., Betty Airs, Jep And Dep, and more recently, simply Darren Cross. However, following the release of last year’s PEACER (still available via Bandcamp, by the way), this storied artist announced that he would be doing things a little bit differently for his new album.
Describing his new record as being “in the the vein of Nick Drake meets John Fahey and Thurston Moore,” a crowdfunding campaign resulted in the release of Ecstatic Racquet, an instrumental record released under the shortened moniker of D.C Cross.
Featuring little more than an acoustic guitar and his talented fingers, Cross – at the risk of borrowing a tired cliché – takes the listener on a musical journey, allowing them to feel more across this 40-minute affair than decades worth of lyrical content ever could.
Check out ‘Presslufthammer Catfight’:
From the opening notes of the record’s first track, ‘Presslufthammer Catfight’, we’re transported into a gorgeous world of Cross’ stunning melodies, with the track ebbing and flowing, before its galloping melody draws you in and overtakes you.
With a name that features the German word for ‘jackhammer’ in its title, the track is as equally vivid and fragile as its name may suggest, and serves as an absolutely mesmerising taster of what is still to come.
Having previously said that the album was inspired by a previous European tour which saw him perform folk guitar in a number of cities, the presence of the continent is clear throughout the record, with the grandiose, historical feeling of the continent shining through from time to time.
Found sounds and field recordings help to guide the listener through this collection of songs, evoking thoughts of post-rock tunes one would likely find on the Constellation Records label, albeit far more accessible for the casual listener.
Offering clear influence to the likes of John Fahey through open tunings and intricate picking patterns, Ecstatic Racquet is in no way a record that attempts to copy the past, instead, it stands alone with its own distinct sound, serving as a unique, eclectic entry into the world of instrumental music.
Ranging from lonesome melodies on the likes of ‘B’Twixt The Moontide Of Nurture And Destruction’, to the use of eerie, reverberated recordings on ‘Nordlin, By Chance?’, and on to the restrained fury at play on ‘Notre Dame Is Burning!’, Ecstatic Racquet is a rare beast, one that is as unafraid as it is beautiful, and one that should serve as required listening for all fans of instrumental guitar.
Undoubtedly though, the enjoyment of this record completely depends on the way in which you choose to consume it.
While its ambient, flowing nature makes it somewhat suited to be thrown on in the background to soundtrack one’s day, a wholly different experience will be had if you were to sit down and invest 40 minutes of your time into the album, giving it the attention each and every note deserves.
Although instrumental albums may be sadly overlooked by much of the music-buying public these days, D.C Cross’ Ecstatic Racquet is truly a release that deserves to be listed among some of the year’s best.
Ranging from the quiet and beautiful to the intricate and wild, it’s a record that will stay with you for days on end, and one that is truly worth experiencing at least once in your life.
D.C Cross’ Ecstatic Racquet is out now via Bandcamp and Cross’ own No Drums Records.
1. ‘Presslufthammer Catfight’
2. ‘First Itch (Highly Strung)’
3. ‘Nordlin, By Chance?’
4. ‘Drugged Up Madonna’
5. ‘B’Twixt The Moontide Of Nurture And Destruction’
6. ‘Bad Mood Dude In Twilight Shirt’
7. ‘Tuesday Morning, Saturday Night (Friedrichshain Suite)’
8. ‘Gambetta Or Neukolln’
9. ‘Karl Cobain’
10. ‘Song for Jessica’
11. ‘Light Autumn Winds’
12. ‘Notre Dame Is Burning!’
13. ‘We Can’t Go On Destroying Each Other’
D.C Cross Ecstatic Racquet Album Launch Tour
Thursday, September 26th
Dusty Attic, Lismore, NSW
Friday, September 27th
Howling Moon Records, Byron Bay, NSW
Sunday, September 29th
(With Jessica Cassar and Melodie Nelson & Singing Skies)
Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW
Saturday, October 5th
(With Jon Flood)
Plant Based Wholefoods, Katoomba, NSW
Sunday, October 6th
(With Andy Nelson)
Little Albert’s, Bathurst, NSW
Thursday, October 10th
Tanswell’s Commercial Hotel, Beechworth, VIC
Friday, October 11th
Edinburgh Castle, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday, October 13th
Merri Creek Tavern, Melbourne, VIC
Tickets: FOMO Events
Saturday, November 9th
Frank’s Wild Years, Thirroul, NSW
Sunday, November 10th
The Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine, VIC