Best known for his incomparable work as the frontman of Gerling, and in more recent years as The E.L.F. and as one half of Jep And Dep, Cross’ debut album _Xantastic comes as a welcome addition to the collection of many Aussie music fans.
Renowned for his live shows and eclectic musicianship, Darren Cross’ debut is undoubtedly one of the most immersive records of the year, and to give some greater insight into this album, Darren has given us a track-by-track rundown.
_Xantastic is out now and available through No Drums Records.
When The Chills Are Coming
Inspired by the darker moments of Simon And Garfunkel, and the apocalyptic meanderings of Bill Callahan and Leonard Cohen, ‘When The Chills Are Coming’, harks back to 60’s protest songs: questioning and trying to make sense of the rapid developments of globally minded governments, technology, the feverishly expanding population, community, and a gentrified world. It’s a subtle folk song to start the album.
New Angel (Cherry Strips)
This is a futuristic electronic folk song about closure, hope, and finding a cool partner. It’s like Beck and Air on Ketamine at a Kraftwerk concert.
And The New York Rain Came Down.
A couple of years ago I was in Brooklyn for three nights sleeping on my old mate’s couch – his long-term girlfriend had just left him. I walked to Chinatown to see the last Breaking Bad episode live on cable at a bar. For some connected weird reason, while I was walking home I really wanted to bump into Lena Dunham (writer of HBO series GIRLS), and while I was walking back to where I was staying over near the Brooklyn Bridge it started pissing down rain.
As I ran to my friend’s apartment I looked into a bar close to where I was staying – and there standing in the dry hipster bar was Lena Dunham chatting with a group of girls, I couldn’t believe it. I raced home soaking wet and wondered what I should do. Fortunately for Lena, I wrote this song.
Highway Lights In The Night
This is a driving song- a positive metaphor for escapism and moving on from a broken relationship or bad situation.
“Every road, leads on out, from bad news coming again”
I used a really old synth I still have left over from the Gerling days on this track, but when initially wrote this track it was a spooky folk type song. It reminds me of 80’s Don Henley a bit..
Just Got Along (La La Le)
“They only way to take it back is paint over colour and make it turn black. Jerry Lee Lewis with the lights turned down”.
I really like the lyrics to this one, plus it’s got a real Neil Young type vibe to it. I tapped Courtney Barnett’s drummer, Dave Mudie, to play drums on this track, too.
I wrote this song when I was staying with friends in New Orleans a couple of years ago. I was also travelling around a lot on Greyhound buses in America, scary but very inspiring. I love Louisiana, it’s such a pretty place.
This is pretty much a straight up folk rock track. The song just came to me in 5 minutes, it was just one of those songs that tapped me on the shoulder sitting on the floor in a wonderful old house in the Garden District in New Orleans in summer.
Time Destroys The Innocence
This one’s a futuristic electronic folk song. I love the droney type sounds of this track, it’s warm and woozy, trying to make it really drugged up and pretty.
Never Again Again
This is a really weird track, probably the most Gerling-type track on _Xantastic. It’s a crazy song. Initially the composition had more like a Krautrock beat but I thought that was boring and clichéd and decided to do something unique. To me it sounds a bit like LCD Soundsystem on PCP/Crystal Meth.
The ending, to me, evokes the euphoria that I would feel when Gerling did our dance tracks build ups live; just climbing, climbing, rushing, ARRGGHHHHH!
Metal Bird (Last Call).
I wanted this to sound like a prisoner talking on an intercom, like Damien Eccles from the West Memphis Three, or Stephen Avery from Making a Murderer. I binge-watch these HBO series and they screw with my mind with thoughts of revenge, etc.
Xantastic is the state of euphoria that one feels after eating Xanax. The substance is often prescribed for mental health disorders related to anxiety. This is how the album feels too, it’s balanced with the message that the world is rapidly changing into something, perhaps not pleasant.
The overall feeling of the album has almost a Xantastic effect, a place where abstract metaphors clash with peaceful folk guitars and electronica that gives a balanced experience. A peaceful apocalypse, understated but profound. This one’s an instrumental track that’s both euphoric and melancholic at the same time.
Damned If I Do, Damned If I Don’t
Another folkie electronic song. Very atmospheric drone samples and with an emotional lyrical sentiment. I was influenced by traditional Celtic Irish folk songs with this track, it came out a little different though.