Chris Wirsig is a composer perhaps better known for his other projects no:carrier, an electro noire band formed in 1995, and Virtual Conformity, an electronica/chill-out project that formed in 2001. Having been classically trained to play piano and saxophone, Wirsing studied audio engineering at Munich’s SAE Technology College.
On Friday Wirsing, who hails from San Francisco, puts all his other projects aside and releases his solo LP The 13 Crystal Skull in which he delves deeper into a dark ambient strand of electronica. The album is inspired by the mythos of the 13 Crystal Skulls which have kept conspiracy theorists busy for over 100 years as well as appearing in popular culture here and there as seen in cult Hollywood blockbuster Indiana Jones.
13 Crystal Skulls is this artists second instrumental album and what we are served is 13 dark and atmospheric pieces that are highly original and highly unsettling. Opening track Overture immediately transports you to a different world. The soundscape is vast and mysterious but the effects on the mind created by the sound is very similar to The Illest Villains, the instrumental opener to Madlib and MF Doom’s infamous collaboration album Madvillainy.
Wirsing has spent much of the 90s making music for computer demos and commercial games, and you can hear that in his music. Ceremony In Tenochtitlan sounds like background music for Mortal Kombat or rather near the business end of level 10 on Tomb Raider. His music is brilliant at setting a scene or presenting a certain mood. Similar to this but in a more ethereal display is the enjoyable Ghosts Of The Aztecs, where the instruments and reverb vocals really give the song – and album on a whole – that mystical vibe it requires.
As a concept this album works as it creates a dimension in which the listener can disappear into. Listening to the music, there is that sense of a world filled with temples that hold the type magic legends speak of, waiting to be explored, experienced and later passed on as folk tales. Sweet moments like Carved Legend feel like hidden gems whilst Refraction sounds like a dubstep beat that would get a halfway house in Dalston bouncing. What is more amazing is that Wirsing manages to conjure this musical landscape all on his own.
13 Crystal Skulls is out for release on 13th May 2016. Give it a stream ahead of its release below: