California’s Danny Spiteri has never worked on an oil rig, but he uses one as a metaphor on Crea Island. According to Spiteri, the cover image was chosen to highlight the clash between nature and technology; the blend of field recordings and electronics on his latest EP accomplishes the same. This release demonstrates the power of an image (worth a thousand words) and words (still worth something), as the titles of the instrumental tracks continue the theme. Once one sees the rig and reads the titles “Seafaring Bauble”, “The Platform” and “Smoke, Grit and North American Industry”, it becomes impossible not to think of the oil rig, the workers far from home, the artificial blotch on the landscape. As the water begins to flow on “Seafaring Bauble”, this connection is made to the music; the birds of “Flute Knot” accomplish the same.
As part of the young Cridius Collective, Spiteri makes electronic music with a hip-hop bent. The hip-hop is somewhat sublimated on Crea Island, suggested through beats but serving a supportive role while other elements dance up front. As expected, the aforementioned “Flute Knot” is dominated by flutes, while “Cinema” is led by synths. But the keenest intrigue is found in the second half of the EP, where the field recordings begin to drench the music in such a way that the notes can no longer be wrung out. The artist seems to surrender to his surroundings, allowing a melancholic fog to descend. The transition takes place at exactly 2:40 of “The Platform”, roughly the midpoint of the EP, as a series of sirens scares the melody into submission. The beats escape on a life raft, leaving behind the sound of the rain and the leaking hull. The piano and looped choral elegy of “Transit” lend the project a serious overtone. Questions bob in their wake. Is this an elegy for an industry, or for nature itself? Is progress inevitable, and if so, whose progress is it? As technology plows forward, borrowing from its future, does progression become regression? The closing track, “Visions and Revelations”, leaves the answers open to interpretation. The trumpet and military drums signify triumph, but history is written by the victors. As the sirens return, we suspect that the victory is a pyrrhic one. (Richard Allen)