Father Murphy, one of the most mysterious and enigmatic musical entities to emerge from Italy in recent years, presents their fifth full-length via The Flenser. This dark psychedelic / industrial cabaret is a religion-themed concept album titled Croce (“Cross” in Italian), one side representing suffering and sacrifice and the flip reflecting what comes after—the end of suffering, resurrection, or perhaps oblivion. The work was recorded by John Dieterich in Albuquerque, NM, and mixed by Greg Saunier.
From the shadowy atmospheres of Croce spring forth unexpected blurts of impossibly catchy noise pop, at times operatic like some twisted musical detailing the trials and tribulation of the crucifixion. Male and female vocals by Freddie Murphy and Chiara Lee intertwine over distorted blasts of guitar crunch, anchored by stuttering, homebuilt percussion. This sound is textural and nuanced yet noisy and chaotic, carefully sculpted into jagged shards of fragmented pop.
A-side closer “In Solitude” is an appropriately dour slab of murky miserablism that sounds like a slow sonic death, a haunting dirge that dissolves into that ineffable space between the record’s two sides; the netherworld, the afterlife, Purgatory. But Father Murphy erupts from this stygian blackness with the second half of Croce—the light to the A-side’s dark. “Long May We Continue” retains a doom-like approach at first, stringing a field of metallic shimmer and junkyard percussion together into a spare framework over which dramatic male vocals soar. The female counterpart responds like some demonic Greek chorus, delivering a sense of warmth. Finale “They Won’t Hurt You” is all majestic pipe organ, a stirring and stately court music, lush and lovely and epic, the sound of rebirth: redemptive and restorative, a return from the beyond, arisen from the grave, ascended into the heavens, the sounds drifting upwards, beyond the galaxy, the universe, into the unknowable infinity.
“… a fascinating listen… an unapologetic venture into head music and contains some powerful compositions. It’s steeped in a sense of reverence, but one that looks below, rather than expecting anything from above.”
—Drowned In Sound
“The oddball psychedelic chamber pop the Italian duo exhales will creep you out with drones, lullabies, and anguished vocals all competing for front-runner spot in your next nightmare. Perfect.”