A solemn synthesizer darts in and out of view as we wade through the deep sonic waters of Joey Curtin’s “Chrysalis.” This five minute ambient juggernaut was forged in fire and brimstone, but it doesn’t contain any overdriven guitars, crashing cymbals or anthemic vocals. “Chrysalis” celebrates the postmodern classical music scene of present, the historical harmonies of an infant ambient generation, and the futuristic tonality of a recording artist who knows no limits when it comes to creating a high definition soundscape that inspires chills in anyone within earshot of its gargantuan melodies. Let it be known that Joey Curtin is an experimentalist, but her music isn’t woefully eccentric.
There’s a very ambient feel to this rhythm, but the spacious sonic environment (which only grows larger with every passing thirty seconds in the song) never goes unutilized. Every stitch of sound is occupied with a boisterous, texturally expressive tonality that, even in the case of the synth parts, never feels anything but genuine, natural and authentic. I’ve listened to a lot of similar material from post-rock and experimental pop groups in the last few months, but none of it has compared to the supremely smooth color that I get from this impeccable track.
“Chrysalis” doesn’t have the jazz-influenced trademark that the majority of Curtin’s work has, but it shouldn’t be dismissed as a departure from her most well-regarded sound. This was built on the strength of her classical background, and in many ways it serves as a tribute to her appreciation of music’s storied past and the way that it has shaped the human experience. You could interpret this particular song a lot of different ways, and because it doesn’t have any prerequisite notions attached to it via a telling title or its mute lyrical content, we’re able to draw something different out of it with every spin that we give it.
You simply can’t go wrong with the lush piano play that affords this track its surreal centerpiece. As much as the synthesizer is worth remarking about (especially in the context of the other music that I’ve reviewed in the last few months of 2019), the piano is the true nucleus that holds everything together in “Chrysalis.” It’s the best element in the song, and from where I sit, its physicality and unrestrained emotion provide listeners with more than enough reason to come back to Joey Curtin’s catalogue of music as she refines her skillset further in the future.
I wasn’t super-familiar with what Joey Curtin had been doing as a solo artist in the last couple of years, but having admittedly fallen in love with the utter masterpiece that is Tigris and Euphrates as well as its star single, I will say that I am really looking forward to hearing more tracks like this one. Curtin is the type of musician who could care less about album sales, magazine covers or her reception with the press – she strikes me as a woman whose only real focus as a performer is on the medium, and the ways in which she will channel its greatest strengths. She’s won me over, and once you listen to “Chrysalis,” I have a feeling that she will you, too.