Celestial Catharsis: Cryogeyser on Their Debut Album, "Glitch"
Written by Jamie Coster
Photographed by Elizabeth Miranda
Cryogeysers are not of this world. Known only to exist in the outermost reaches of the solar system, these extraterrestrial eruptions of ice crystals and space dust are forever cascading upwards through the heavens, privately externalizing the internal for no one but themselves in an act of explosive and divine catharsis. While we who are limited to this planet in these bodies may never have the opportunity to witness these cosmic happenings firsthand, we are fortunately given the chance to engage with displays of celestial beauty on an Earthen scale in the icy dreamscapes of Los Angeles based three-piece Cryogeyser.
When I arrive at the home of bandmates Shawn Marom and Hunter Martinez, it is an unforgiving ninety-eight degrees and Shawn and Hunter are hard at work laying a new old rug in their joint living room practice space. A drum set borrowed from friends in the band Gal Pal inhabits a third of the room, a Fender amp protrudes out of the fireplace, and the mantel is adorned with the contained clutter of records, memorabilia, and gig flyers. After some additional rearranging until the room is in harmony, we move outside where it may actually be cooler. Sitting on the porch in the blistering El Sereno sun, we are hot, overworked, and trying to have meaningful discussions about art and self-expression.
Growing up in the expansive San Fernando Valley, Shawn learned to sing by belting their stream of consciousness poetry on long drives across the city over the late night instrumental trance mixes played on KCRW. The immediacy and raw emotion in their words and voice, as well as their improvisational sense of melody, can be heard and traced back to these isolated trips through solipsism in a confined space of total and unabashed vulnerability.
After a few years of writing and performing on their own, as well as in a number of different groups in New York and Los Angeles, Shawn recruited bassist and co-songwriter Hunter Martinez along with drummer and producer Jeremy McLennan to start their newest project. The three immediately hit it off, evident in their innate musical chemistry in regards to space, composition, and texture.
“There’s something really special about the project just being Hunter, Jeremy, and I. The songs become much more about the relationships between our parts and what we can do with the limitations we’ve put on ourselves.”
The sense of intimacy and vulnerability that exudes from Cryogeyser’s music is due much in part to the kinship and empathy that exists between Shawn and Hunter and the strange synchronicity in their lives that led to the band’s formation.
“I think Cryogeyser came at a very important time in my life. I was going through a breakup and there was a lot of movement in my life, both figuratively and literally,” Hunter explains. “Shawn was going through a similar situation and I think Cryogeyser and making this album was a good way for us to cope, to mourn, to reflect, and be thankful for our relationships and the people in our lives.”
Shawn and Hunter’s songwriting is able to explore new sonic fields of potential through Jeremy’s idiosyncratic production methods, combining organic and artificial sounds in ways that are both familiar and alien. He has developed his techniques over the last few years in his own project Orchin, in which Hunter is also a member. Adorned with bright green hair and a well worn T-shirt for The Matrix, Jeremy is more akin to a cyberpunk mad scientist than a recording engineer.
“My approach to production is all about capturing space and the balance of artificial and organic sound. As a producer I view music from the perspective of an interior designer, everything must have its own space and for each addition made, something is taken away in order to create a greater whole; similar to the alchemical principle of equivalent exchange.”
While the band wears their influences on their sleeve (Hunter is literally sporting a Heaven or Las Vegas tattoo on his exposed bicep) through the classic genre-signifiers of dream pop and shoegaze, the sum of all the parts add up to something wholly original. Never before has a shoegaze record had both intelligible and meaningful lyrics so forward in the mix, let alone acting as the sonic focal point. Never before has reverb been utilized in such a way that it emphasizes the surrounding negative space of a track and not the other way around. Their distinctive sculptural compositions are like an aural ouroboros of synchronized reinforcement between instruments and vocals where the notions of melody and rhythm begin to blur in new and exciting ways.
“A lot of the time when we’re jamming, it’ll feel like Hunter is playing what seems like could be a guitar part on bass, and my guitar playing is keeping the rhythm and acting as support for Hunter’s bass part, all the while Jeremy’s drumming is following and supporting my vocal melody.”
This past August, Cryogeyser released their debut LP Glitch on Terrible Records. The album is an eleven-track meditation on phenomenological purification, “something like a holy purge” of mantras, memories, and sentiments. Shawn’s writing adeptly reflects on the nature of a pivotal life experience, the kind that takes hold of you and shapes you into a new iteration of yourself, as nothing but a fleeting chance encounter, a glitch, and the beautiful dumb randomness of what it means to be alive and to feel and to experience. It’s an album that is entirely idiosyncratic, deeply personal, and wholly universal in its explorations of love, grief, and all the confusing nuanced feelings in between.
“I think the greatest songs come in the moments that are completely and utterly overwhelming. The feeling is just too big and the moment stretches out forever yet feels like it’s leaving upon arrival, and you have to write in this really speedy way to capture it. It’s like light for film or a stroke for a painter. There is so much of my own raw emotion in this project. Having a conversation with myself in these songs, years later, is something I’m really looking forward to.”
Keep up with Cryogeyser.