It was July 9th at about 7:30pm in Los Angeles when Crywolf hit me up on Facebook. He wanted my thoughts on some music he was working on, and I happily obliged. He would send me a private Soundcloud link, and I would give him my, admittedly not-technical, critiques. Then he would send me another link. About five tracks in, it finally hit me.
“Have you just been casually sending me Cataclasm?” I asked.
“Yep!” he replied.
It’s been four long, long months since that night and I haven’t stopped thinking about Cataclasm, about how it might change the sound of music for the better or how it had the potential to truly let Crywolf’s name shine. Every artist puts their soul into their music, in one way or another, and it’s probably unfair to try and compare how much each artist puts in. Even knowing this, it’s hard not to put Crywolf on a pedestal.
There are certain qualities that are somehow universally conveyed through music. For Crywolf, it’s a particular rawness – various instruments were used in the production of this album, and it’s clear that they weren’t put through plugin after plugin in whatever DAW that Crywolf chose to use. The sounds are natural, unprocessed, and organic, something that can be a rarity in EDM these days.
And I think it’s at this point that I address what this album is, because I’m definitely one of the bigger supporters of the notion that EDM is a catch-all umbrella term. But I can’t bring myself to call Cataclasm “EDM.” It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. To be completely accurate, Cataclasm is an electronically produced album consisting of live instrumentation, vocal processing and harmonization. But that sounds too rigid. The reality is that Cataclasm can be whatever you want it to be. The music has the potential to resonate with anyone willing enough to open their minds and their hearts to the message that Crywolf tries to convey in his own defeated tones.
Another reason to refrain from the EDM category is the lack of typically classified “bangers” on the album. But make no mistake, these songs are powerful.
Whether its conveyed through Crywolf’s own vocals, or the instrumentals, it’s hard to personify any of the tracks as a man sitting on a stage with a single spotlight, singing softly on an acoustic guitar. It’s more appropriate to imagine someone on their last breath climbing Mt. Everest, or whatever metaphorical life challenge most resonates with you.
The pacing of the album is maybe the most impressive. Too often, an album will blow its load early, and it becomes a chore to finish. With Cataclasm, it’s more akin to gentle teasing with an organic climax and resolution. There might even be some aftershocks, if you’re into that sort of thing.
**Download the Digital Booklet to read while listening**:
I hope that after listening to this album, sparks will become wildfires. Thoughts swimming around in the heads of disillusioned creatives will mature into fleshed out visions, and realities will propagate. Most of all, I hope that people will realize that electronic music doesn’t have to be synths and plugins and sine waves – for all that is being made and all that is being created, it’s difficult to overcome the beauty of organic sounds.