The Music of Curse NFT

Among the many artistic disciplines Curse NFT seamlessly integrates—film, 3D photography, conceptual art, performance, the digital and the literary—it is easy to understate the role that music has played in the project. Curse NFT is so iconic that, if seen whilst scrolling through a Twitter timeline, one might assume the image is static—and silent. 

Do not assume. It is neither. 

We invite you to spend some time with Curse NFT in its compressed, non-4D version below. With the volume up. Up, up!


While the video cycles through its five presentations in one loop and one song, this is a simplified version of the NFT’s behaviour. As we have shared, Curse NFT is a 1/1 NFT; the first one to use Chainlink’s revolutionary Keepers oracle technology to respond to the changing price of Ethereum. When the price of ETH goes up for 1 and 2 days in a row, Curse NFT will display ‘positive’ 3D renderings (the runway and the flashing strobe lights). When the price of ETH decreases for 1 and 2 days in a row, the displays will be ‘negative’ (the votive candle and the Blade Runner-esque scene in the rain). Finally, when the price of ETH hits 20K, Krystall’s face will be displayed in its full blessed form, accompanied by an angelic chorus threaded through her own voice. 

The music to accompany these transformations was integrated early into the process by Barrett Avner, the frontman of cult podcast Contain, and a visual artist and composer in his own right. Barrett is a classic rock guitarist, who has been obsessed with music—“mostly that by other people”—his whole life. It was once he began to think of music as part of a unifying structure that encompassed art and language that he finally began to make it: on the computer. “I used to use hardware, analog synths, etc., but I didn’t like the pastiche sounds they made. It is also very difficult to get the right sounds on them, because there are so many variables that affect the capacitance and component drift over time.” Now Barrett records guitar parts that he runs through Max MSP to create unique sounds which he stretches, loops, then bakes effects into.   

The invitation to do the music for Curse NFT was extended to him in May, when Mónica and Charlie visited Contain, and it developed into his crafting one composition for four of Krystall’s five phases/faces. Under Charlie’s direction, Barrett started work before having an image—let alone four of them. The early steps of composition were thus narrative-based, trying to capture the descending and ascending moods the piece proposed. 

Each of the four compositions was done in Ableton 11, as “it has a lot of very interesting granular effects that mimic tree-tones, earth frequencies. I run a lot of samples and guitars through these.” The two ‘negative’ images throw drums into the mix; while the ‘positive’ ones, “those that are time-stretched,” incorporate synths and samples Barrett froze, reprocessed and (re)crystallised, again and again, as if forging a sword.     

The fifth and last image—the Blessed Vision of Krystall—was an intimate affair conducted by the model herself and her partner in music and life, Dan Smith, aka T.O.L.D. (The Order of Death and Life).

The project suited him, since T.O.L.D. is devotionally-inclined and known to use gospel choirs in his compositions. Within this one image, he sculpted rising and falling melodies that synthesized the affect of the previous four to convey the “glorious” character of the blessed variation. He directed Krystall to sing, and arranged the parts to the accompaniment of a favoured synth patch he likes to deploy for song climaxes. He also started composition before experiencing Curse NFT, and completed it while he had only seen the blessed form and not the fivefold suite in its entirety. This was not a problem: “I instantly heard the chord progressions and harmonies. There was almost no thought involved. I think I laid down the individual notes one by one on a piano, and then played them back and had Krystall sing them all, layering up about eight times for each note.” The effect is, indeed, glorious.

Curse NFT will be on auction at until Monday, September 13, at 5:00 PM CST.

Listen to three of the unique tracks produced for the Curse NFT.

Check out our full length interview with Barrett from Contain here.