Photo courtesy Jim Newberry
Despite the laborious name, Dawn Golden and Rosy Cross is the work of just one man: 24-year-old Chicago producer Dexter Tortoriello. Last year, Tortoriello garnered praise for his work as half of Houses (with partner Megan Messina). Houses’ quickly assembled All Night is ambient electronic music (chillwave, if you must): a very de rigueur mix of programmed drums, atmospheric synths and dreamy vocals.
As Dawn Golden and Rosy Cross, Tortoriello cuts through the gauzy haze of Houses with a scalpel. The instrumentation has the same starting point, but with dramatically different results. Rather than nostalgia, the tone here is paranoia; the music is more immediate, if a little uneasy.
Dawn Golden’s Blow EP opens with “On the Floor.” What starts as melodic and light turns unnerving (a shift captured by the creepy video), with pounding drums and white noise that is somewhere between static and screaming. Before the listener can decipher it, the song powers down – a 90 second introduction of things to come.
The standout track is “Blacks.” The song is driven by pneumatic, industrial percussion, which is juxtaposed by Tortoriello’s airy vocals and accents of precise strings.
Throughout the EP, programmed drums appear as skittering attacks, as on “Blacks.” On “Blow,” they make the song more ‘nightmare’ than ‘dream.’ On “White Sun,” the drums progressively consume more and more of the song’s oxygen, which has a piano melody on reminiscent of that on “Something I Can Never Have” (blame it on heavy doses of Nine Inch Nails in my diet, but it has the same melancholy feel).
[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/White-Sun.mp3″ text=”Dawn Golden and Rosy Cross – White Sun” dl=0]
The instrumental “Lamont” sounds like a Houses song, but with the optimism of a Postal Service offering. The EP closes with “Black Sun,” a collage of piano, live drums, and natural ambiance that gives way to horns. Blow is only 19 minutes, but the songs have an addictive quality that demand repeat listenings. Houses introduced Dexter Tortoriello to the music world, but Dawn Golden and Rosy Cross better realizes his potential.