Milton Cross is/was a sometimes-member of Tarentel and also did a really, really great collaborative album with Jefre Cantu-Ledesma under the moniker Josephine (that was released on tape by Digitalis in 2011), but for me his crowning achievement remains his lone solo record, Light in the West. Originally self-released on CDR, he sent it to Foxy Digitalis for review and my love for it grew from there. Tony and I met for the first time the next year at Bottled Smoke. It was pretty random in that he was about to head for home and was just saying goodbye, thanking us for putting on the festival and somehow the subject of my review came up. Until that moment I didn’t realize that this “Tony” was Milton Cross. Once the lightbulb went off, I reiterated my love for his record and the subject of doing a reissue of it came up briefly. For the next year we traded emails, threw all kinds of ideas at the wall and eventually agreed on the package you see above (art designed by my wife).
“It’s Been Almost a Year” is the opening song on the album and remains one of the most stunningly beautiful pieces of music the label has ever released. It’s draped in the two things Cross wields most effectively: violin and harmonium. At its height, “It’s Been Almost a Year” is emotionally draining, Cross pulling out all the stops as the strings get frenetic while the harmonium drones on, adding a sense of melancholy and stolid remembrance. I have no idea what this song is inspired by, but it sounds like the lamentations of reminiscing over a lost loved one, all the highs, especially the lows. It seriously fucking gets me every time.