Microtonal music artist Jason Yerger’s project Cryptic Ruse (formerly City of the Asleep) – now with actual microtonal guitars! – returns to show us his new and masterfully crafted work: Chains of Smoke.
Using three different exotic tuning systems – 13 EDO, 15 EDO, and 23 EDO (EDO stands for Equal Divisions of the Octave) – and a wide palette of musical genres, Jason makes us travel to never-before heard sonic landscapes. By using “oriental” and “middle-oriental”-sounding tunings with a more standard (for us, westerners!) metal band quatuor instrumentation, with due distortion, riffs, and tropes, he has created something we don’t hear anywhere else! Sure, there is Jute Gyte for your microtonal metal needs, but 24 EDO, or the way they use it, doesn’t sound as exotic; and there’s also Brendan Byrnes’ Micropangaea, he uses an even wider range of tunings, but his music is pretty far from being metal. Same can be said for uSSSy’s album: sounds more exotic, but less metal. Cryptic Ruse thus gives us something unique, exceptional, and bloody well done!
There’s also a challenge inherent to the album and its concept: finding which songs feature which tuning! Here’s a little bit of help on the subject from Jason himself:
A helpful guide to those trying to figure out the tunings:
a) Do you hear obvious quartertonal movement? If so, it’s 23edo!
b) Do you hear recognizable major/minor triads? If so, it’s 15edo!
c) Do the melodic movements sound like 12edo, but the harmonies sound rather queasy? If so, it’s (probably) 13edo!
d) Do you hear a septimal minor 7th? Definitely 15edo!
e) Do you hear an obvious septimal tritone featured heavily? Definitely 23edo!
f) Do you hear 9/5 being featured a lot, in contrast to some really nasty super-sharp 5ths? Probably 13edo!
Other hints: there are 4 tracks in 13edo, 5 tracks in 15edo, and 4 tracks in 23edo. The 13edo tracks are not usually as intricate, while the 23edo tracks typically have large dynamic shifts and very frequent time changes. The 15edo tracks are generally pretty obvious when they feature major and minor chords and “conventional” chord progressions, but 23edo can also sound pretty similar when I make use of mavila and ripple MOS scales.
So, do you think you can tell the tunings in the songs?
Also, spare a few coins for that amazing and unique album!