|(Photo by Danielle Hardy)|
None of us are privy to the film screening inside Jeff Caxide's head, but we certainly have an idea of what that picture sounds like thanks to Endless Midnight, the debut album from CRONE. Yet it’d be lazy of me to describe the first post-ISIS project by the bass player as merely a soundtrack searching for a movie. Sure, Endless Midnight is cinematic, bleak as a Blade Runner soundstage and noir as a moonlit Mulholland Drive, but the record inspires imagery and more so—a state of mind—than it references the work of other composers. First to acknowledge the influence of filmmakers Terrence Malick and Andrei Tarkovsky, Caxide makes it clear CRONE’s intentions were never to mimic. “I was worried about emulating the music from some of my favorite films and had quite a few false starts,” he told me, “but eventually fell into a rhythm where I was thinking about mood and atmosphere and not technique.”
Surprisingly, Caxide’s new project draws inspiration not just from inimitable auteurs but literature as well, particularly the work of reclusive horror scribe Thomas Ligotti. “I wanted to bring to life the cerebral sense of dread and unease that are in his stories,” he explained. Indeed, a sense of melancholy and detachment pervades Endless Midnight, the music at times lush and majestic, elsewhere sparse and despairing…shifts in tone that often occur within a single track and call to mind the strongest (and strangest) qualities of Ligotti’s fiction. Although his love of soundscapes was partially explored by ISIS in interludes and segues, Caxide can trace the fascination to childhood. “As long as I can remember I’ve loved ambient sounds,” Jeff recalled. “I’ve slept with a fan on since I was a boy, and distinctly remember this big humidifier just outside my bedroom, the loud humming it made. It accompanied whatever I did, and even had a presence in my dreams.”
Gaining confidence as a writer was complimented coincidentally by Jeff’s current home of Los Angeles. “I often took demos with me on hour-long hikes and nighttime drives. Usually it was during these moments when I discovered where certain songs needed to go.” It’s the artist as tactician, and much like a novelist plotting a book during a fit of insomnia or a director blocking a scene on the back of a cocktail napkin, CRONE is the result of many sleepless nights, eyestrain and bad posture, along with a healthy dose of what down south they call “mulling time.”
The results speak for themselves.
From graffiti-tagged neighborhoods to breathtaking canyon vistas, the perpetual thrum of a helicopter, sirens, street walkers, warm summer twilights and low-hanging smog, CRONE was shaped as much by Caxide’s affinities for fiction and film as it was the city of the project’s conception. But no matter where you might find yourself, Endless Midnight is above all else the perfect sonic companion to that “magic hour” loved by a Hollywood camera…and the darkness that follows.
Cobb County, GA