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ALBUM REVIEW: D.C Cross – Ecstatic Racquet

Ecstatic Racquet - D.C Cross

No Drums Records

D.C Cross is the latest chapter in the career of Darren Cross, he of Gerling fame and more recently as a solo artist and one half of the folk noir duo Jep and Dep. His solo albums have been sonically varied affairs with alt-country, folk, electronica and psychedelic adventures all butting up against each other and sometimes sharing the same song. Now he’s turned the spotlight predominantly on his acoustic guitar playing with this new instrumental album.

There’s a purity and precision at play in these 14 compositions that suggest hours of dedicated practice, training the fingers to do the work of what the creative mind is conjuring up. There are obvious influences at play – Bert Jansch, John Fahey, Leo Kottke – the titans of the American Primitive scene who progressed acoustic guitar playing from classical, folk and psych into new areas, as well as newer progenitors such as Ryley Walker and Steve Gunn. 

’First Itch (Highly Strung)’ quickly establishes Cross’ penchant for pretty, dreamy melodies before indecipherable field recordings of found sound give an eerie Sonic Youth meets Lanois and Eno feel to ‘Nordlin, By Chance’. The addition of billowing reverb at the conclusion of the wonderfully titled ‘B’Twixt The Moontide Of Nurture and Destruction’ and through ‘Bad Mood Dude With Twilight Shirt’ creates a huge soundstage for the notes to ring out, as if Cross is sitting solo in a large empty hall or a shadow-streaked canyon. 

The excerpts of recordings from city streets, of ringing church bells, planes and bees, all add a sense of the narrator, in this case, the player, taking stock of the world around him. Finding beauty in small details, despair in others. It’s a special thing to be able to create these wordless stories with such lyrical qualities, and in the context of contemporary Australian music this stands as a rare and quite unique album.

Chris Familton

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