Liam Murphy

April 18, 2022

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

Post-00s America is swallowed by something intangible, as everything is sucked through a sonic wormhole on this release

christtt is no stranger to mythologising modernity. Lifting acerbically current or recent subject matter – such as the dualities of digital connection and the cold facsimile existence of life in a corporate world – to a place of magnitude, using abrasive electronic sound and bewildering production. With newest release A.D., it feels as though the Pennsylvania-based artist takes a step firmly into the physical realm at first, though the world in which the listener lands quickly succumbs to some cosmological force.

The tinny sound of a phone welcomes us, as missed call communicates a feeling of uncertainty and unease. A voicemail is left; a fragile voice climbing beyond creeping piano and hissing feedback. Though the voice assures the listener and the person they have dialled that there is nothing wrong, the tone is disquieting and the content difficult to decipher completely. This introduction plays out like a moment from a '00s slasher film; faint visions of American suburban sprawls and unloving modern pageantry come to mind. A male character concealing critical information, but asserting a sense of danger. As eeriness meshes with euphoric strings, something altogether otherworldly seeps in. Something many zealous residents of suburbia have probably been waiting for their whole existence.

There is an air of supernatural running through A.D., inextricably tied to the banal sludge of modern life. Newscasts of some terrible event of “global proportions” filter through heavy electronic beats on newsworms, as christtt introduces the unspoken happening that will haunt the album. From the clattering percussion that moves like some fiendish machine from the underworld brought to life, it is not hard to imagine what the listener could be witnessing. On burning rain, fried guitar tones leak through a warping filter, as if we watch a searing hot cul-de-sac succumb to the grip of some preternatural entity.

From here, the slow sink into an age of judgement comes in the form of sturdy samples of radio-friendly hits and '80s pastiche sequences. Whitney Houston, Bruce Hornsby and Wilson Philips are among the offerings used to represent the crumbling into a time of chaos and disorder. Life appears to have taken the form of a horrific carnival love train ride in which those left are haunted by the sounds of the former world.

The closing track presents a sound that feels cleansing in many ways. A deep and soothing voice revolves with a juddering refrain, the clear epiphanic nature of his voice teasing feelings of redemption. In contrast to the tracks that had past, this one is less explicitly reappropriated material. It feels pure and in and of itself, rather than owing to a reference point. Through the power of the producer’s conceptual exploration, it’s hard to know, however, whether walk the earth represents a lament or a celebration. Its length promotes it as the presented world’s new normative state, but it hangs between relief and sorrow.

A.D. does a commendable job of illuminating that amorphous beast of North American modernity. In exploring a reality scorned by holy forces, christtt expertly displays a contemporary happening of a preternatural scale. It emerges over the runtime like a vision with all the surrealness of a film, but with all the palpable qualities of a believable event.