Red velvet curtains draw back to reveal a cosmic wheel of fortune, floating in the deep black star-studded theater of infinite space. A whirl of timbres, personalities, and stories. The Turning Wheel, the third full-length by the Bay Area artist SPELLLING (Chrystia Cabral), revolves around themes of human unity, the future, divine love and the enigmatic ups and downs of being a part of this carnival called life.
Venturing to push the boundaries of her primarily synth-based work, SPELLLING took on the ambitious task of orchestrating and self-producing an album that features an ensemble of 31 collaborating musicians. The Turning Wheel incorporates a vast range of rich acoustic sounds that cast SPELLLING’s work into vibrant new dimensions. The double LP is split into two halves — “Above” and “Below.” Lush string quartet shimmer combines with haunting banjo and wandering bassoon leads, as the album progresses from the more jubilant, warm, and dreamy mood of the “Above” tracks to the more chilling and gothic tone of the “Below” tracks. This progression is anchored by SPELLLING’s familiar bewitching vocal style that emphasizes the theatrical and folkloric heart of her songwriting.
The release of The Turning Wheel was delayed by almost a year from its intended release date in September 2020 but the forced pause ended up serving as a blessing in disguise. Navigating the chaos of recording and producing the remaining instrumentalists – either remotely or through rigid socially distanced studio sessions – was immensely difficult, however the delays ultimately opened up the opportunity for SPELLLING to dedicate more attention to her lyrics. The Turning Wheel demonstrates a distinct evolution of lyrical style, from the more incantatory and abbreviated approach of her previous work to a more expansive, narrative production.
The Turning Wheel is a manifestation of this considerable effort, time, and collaborative energy and will surely become a classic for its elegance. And while the artist’s eclectic influences, from soul to psych to pop to noise, remain present, something entirely new has also been born in the cosmic soup of this massive undertaking: a grand and genreless adventure. One that allows the artist’s authenticity to shine and also marks her as a conduit for something with a magic of its own.
SPELLLING’s previous bodies of work have earned her critical acclaim. Her 2017 debut Pantheon of Me was Bandcamp’s #4 Album of the Year and they raved: “Cabral has it, from her careful sense of composition to her charismatic presence to her ability to communicate with her music straight through to the listener’s heart.” Her first release on Sacred Bones, the Hard to Please single, was named a Best Track by The Guardian, who said the song was “like Solange looking in a haunted mirror.” Her second full length Mazy Fly saw great support from the likes of Pitchfork (“it’s the sound of an artist’s vision sharpening, pointing outward.”), Stereogum (“It’s a gorgeous and evocative and provocative record, and it points to a future where Cabral could pretty much do anything.”), Paste (“too appealing to resist”) and once again found its place in The Best Albums of 2019 at Bandcamp.
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East Bay Express
“Ominously distorted minimal synth chords bang underneath a whooshing chant cranked on my best speakers while I think about how best to describe this music. The artist’s name is Spellling because that is what she does, cast spells.”
Creating A World Just for Her: The Charismatic Spellling comes to Songbyrd
“So often, there will be an article out in the world that touts an artist as being groundbreaking or revolutionizing the music world around them. And while that acclaim is great and gives merit to a plethora of new and experimental artists, what really struck me about Oakland artist Spellling is how she doesn’t try to revolutionize this existing world. If anything, she works double time to invent her own.”
4 concerts to catch in the D.C. area over the next several days
The Washington Post
Spellling — real name: Chrystia “Tia” Cabral — knows how to sing in delicate whispers, but her elocution can contradict that daintiness. She likes to lean into the drama of her songs, elongating words by overemphasizing certain syllables — a playful antithesis to the articulation-isn’t-important attitude that prevails across so much of today’s pop music.
SPELLLING Announces North American Tour, Shares Video for “Queen of Wands”
Under The Radar
‘The Turning Wheel came out last year via Sacred Bones, and was one of our Top 100 Albums of 2021. Listen to our podcast interview with Cabral, where she discusses the album.’
Spellling Announces North American Tour, Shares New “Queen of Wands”
‘Spellling has announced a North American tour in support of her 2021 LP The Turning Wheel with a new video for “Queen of Wands.” After a handful of summer festival dates—including Pitchfork Music Festival on July 15—Chrystia Cabral heads out on her first headlining tour in August and October.’
NPR Music’s 50 Best Albums of 2021 – The Turning Wheel
‘On her third album as Spellling, the Bay Area-based wizardess Chrystia Cabral employs the language of myth, magic and fancy to illuminate her reality as an empathic artist negotiating the realities of a world that’s multifariously on fire.’
SASHA GEFFEN’S BEST MUSIC OF 2021 – The Turning Wheel
‘Chrystia Cabral’s music encircles scenes of love and harmony with the threat of what lurks beyond their light: wolves at the edge of town, snapping at the gates. ‘
The 8 Best Music Videos of June 2021
‘The orchestral title track from Tia Cabral’s third album as SPELLLING is plenty dreamy on its own, but the woodsy, self-directed video neatly rounds off her fairytale vision. ‘
SPELLLING is a Conduit of the Divine on Orchestral Pop Concept LP The Turning Wheel
‘The elegant collection of twelve songs builds on the bewitching synth-based sound she’s consistently refined since 2017’s Pantheon of Me, evolving in terms of lyrical complexity, sonic richness and conceptual depth. Born largely of the past year spent in isolation, these shifts all serve to signal the exponential potential of Cabral’s creative capabilities.’
SPELLLING The Turning Wheel
‘The myth-skewing, Oakland-based artist is a chameleonic pop singer on her third album. Whimsical and urgent, these are fairy tales meant to wake us up.
9 New Albums You Should Listen to Now: Tyler, the Creator, Faye Webster, Lucy Dacus, SPELLLING, and More
‘Chrystia Cabral’s new album as SPELLLING was led by the single “Little Deer”—a song she called a “thesis track” of the LP because “it accomplishes this strong impression of theater that I was striving for with the album as a whole.” Learn more in the new feature “How Dracula, Tarot Cards, and Drinking in the Shower Inspired SPELLLING’s New Album.”’
How Dracula, Tarot Cards, and Drinking in the Shower Inspired SPELLLING’s New Album
‘Tia Cabral is a shapeshifter, with an eye and ear tilting toward the fantastical. In the visuals for her experimental pop project SPELLLING, she has appeared as an entity dipped in glittery goo, a rodeo princess, and a silver-faced harlequin. In her new short film for “Turning Wheel”—the title track of her enchanting new album—Cabral leads a gaggle of circus-chic misfits up a grassy knoll, a butterfly perched on her lavender cheek.’
Album of the Day: SPELLLING, “The Turning Wheel”
‘The Turning Wheel is inspired by a multitude of genres, “from soul to psych to pop to noise” according to the record’s liner notes, which she knits together to gradually transport listeners from an airy high to a heavy low. It’s all done in a theatrical fashion, each scene connected by raw emotion.’
The 11 projects you should stream now – SPELLLING
‘We loved “Little Deer,” the immutable lead single from Oakland avant-pop artist Spellling. Her new project is entirely self-produced and enlists the talents of 31 different musicians.’
‘The Turning Wheel, SPELLLING’s latest work, is exactly that—a mesmerizing, inventive, and infectious work sprawling in beautiful new directions from past acclaimed albums like Mazy Fly. The Sacred Bones release drops June 25 and deserves to be heard by the masses…’
THE 33 BEST ALBUMS OF 2021 SO FAR: SPELLLING – THE TURNING WHEEL
‘An album of contrasts and juxtaposition, The Turning Wheel is an exploration of cycles and coefficients, its two halves comprising a set of bright orchestral pop against an underbelly of big-production gothic dirges.’
Album of the Week: SPELLLING – THE TURNING WHEEL
‘Little Deer,” the first single from Cabral’s third album The Turning Wheel, proves what she’s capable of with a lot more room to stretch out and build upon the already captivating foundation she’s established. Dramatic piano chords ring out against a cinematic array of strings, with twinkly synths climbing toward starlight. It’s a stunner from the outset, but by the chorus it becomes truly breathtaking…’
The 51 Most Anticipated Albums of Summer 2021
‘The Turning Wheel is Chrystia Cabral’s third album as SPELLLING, and it marks a turn toward lush orchestration (featuring no fewer than 31 collaborative musicians) and fanciful storytelling.’
The 50 Best Albums Of 2021 So Far
‘As SPELLLING, Chrystia Cabral has been making darkly alluring experimental pop for years. The Turning Wheel maintains the darkness, the allure, and Cabral’s experimental touch, yet she has turned up the pop quotient significantly here.’
SPELLLING – “Turning Wheel”
‘SPELLLING is releasing her new album, The Turning Wheel, in a couple weeks. We’ve heard two tracks from it so far, “Little Dear” and “Boys At School,” and today we’re getting the title track, which sounds like an elaborate ’60s pop fantasia with an appropriately theatrical video to match.’
SPELLLING announces her third album, The Turning Wheel
‘The Bay Area artist will share her third full-length via the Brooklyn-based label on June 25th. The Turning Wheel draws on synth pop, R&B and soul and sees Cabral co-producing and orchestrating an ensemble of 31 musicians, including banjo, harp, bassoon and trombone. Originally meant to be released last September, the twelve-track LP was delayed due to the pandemic and resulted in instrumentalists recording in socially-distanced and remote studio sessions.’
SPELLLING – “Boys At School”
‘The Bay Area’s Chrystia Cabral is back with a new SPELLLING single, “Boys At School,” from her forthcoming album The Turning Wheel. This follows the lead single, “Little Dear,” which previewed a more upbeat, poppy direction. This new track starts as an eccentric piano ballad with haunting vocals and atmospheric synths, and gradually transforms into an intense indie rock anthem.’
SPELLLING Shares New Song “Boys At School” The Turning Wheel Due Out June 25 on Sacred Bones
Under The Radar
‘In a press release Cabral explains that the new song “steps back into my younger self, my teenage self to voice my angst, desires and disillusionments. I knew when I created the main motif on the piano that it was striking something really raw and both delicate and fierce. The notes just immediately transported me to the era of my youth, of this time when you are really beginning to confront the mirror of yourself to the outside world.”
10 Best Songs of the Week: SPELLLING, Lucy Dacus, Ora the Molecule, Twin Shadow, and More
Under The Radar
‘On Wednesday, SPELLLING (aka Chrystia Cabral) announced the release of her third studio album, The Turning Wheel, due for release on June 25 via Sacred Bones after nearly a year of delays. Cabral also shared the album’s first track and lead single “Little Deer.” Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art here.’
‘Little Deer’ by SPELLLING Review
‘From her home-recorded first album, 2017’s Pantheon of Me, up through 2019’s Sacred Bones debut Mazy Fly, the Bay Area artist Chrystia Cabral—aka SPELLLING—has entertained a fascination with the otherworldly. “SPELLLING is about showing people that there’s magic in every moment,” Cabral told Pitchfork at the time. With “Little Deer,” the sweeping first single from her forthcoming third album, The Turning Wheel, Cabral vividly melds the mythical with the familiar.’
Pitchfork Features SPELLLING’s New Single ‘Little Deer’
“…Bay Area artist Chrystia Cabral has announced a new SPELLLING album: The Turning Wheel, which follows 2019’s Mazy Fly, is out June 25 via Sacred Bones. Listen to its lead single, “Little Deer”—a song inspired by Frida Kahlo’s iconic “Wounded Deer” painting—below…”
Fader Features New SPELLLING Track, “Little Deer”
“”Little Deer,” the first single from The Turning Wheel, drops today, and continues Spellling’s eclectic, genre-defying streak wrapped in a warm and funky atmosphere…”
SPELLLING Returns with New Album ‘The Turning Wheel’
Chrystia Cabral has shared details of a new album as SPELLLING. The Bay Area-based artist will release The Turning Wheel on June 25 through Sacred Bones Records.
The 12-song The Turning Wheel follows SPELLLING’s acclaimed 2019 LP Mazy Fly, which Exclaim! gave a 9/10 score.
Our Take: SPELLLING’S ‘Mazy Fly’ Will Make You Believe In Magic
Having been quoted as drawing inspirations “from messages in her dreams,” Chrystia Cabral, who goes by SPELLLING, conjures forth a very cerebral soundscape; one filled with flashes of light shining out from the shadowy scene, every inch of which she has carefully crafted.
SPELLLING Mazy Fly Review
There’s a song on SPELLLING’s debut, 2017’s Pantheon of Me, where the vocalist and musician Tia Cabral moans over a high-pitched, murderous guitar refrain, one that sounds like tiny gremlins fiending for blood: “I’m not going back to him.” She repeats herself, slightly changing the plea, as layers of ghostly vocals spill over each other. “I’m not going back to the grave.” Again, more desperate than before, she wails, “I’m not going back to the grave.”
Album Of The Week: SPELLLING Mazy Fly
As SPELLLING, Cabral makes music that’s basically impossible to categorize. She plays around with all sorts of dark and vaporous sounds: gothed-out horror-movie synth textures, new-wave bloop-riffs, queasy ambient sputters, bluesy squelches, creeped-out smooth-jazz saxophones, pillowy ’80s-R&B bass-riffs, spindly indie-rock guitar-murmurs. As a singer, Cabral is rooted in soul, and she’s capable of bending notes with astonishing force and conviction.
SPELLLING Is Making Haunted Electronic Pop for the Witch (or Wizard) in All of Us
The Bay Area artist talks about dressing up like magical characters, obsessing over creepy carnivals, and embracing her uniqueness in this Rising interview.