Review Summary: Some of the most experimental music that we've heard for a while, who would have thought people would of been so amazed by 8-bit music?
So the biggest problem in the music business tends to be that everything sounds just like something else or bands sell out too quickly. That, is where Crystal Castles differentiate themselves from anything else out there. Their ideas and methods are ones in which I don't believe have been done before. These guys, Alice Glass (Vocals) and Ethan Kath (Multi-instrumentalist) claim to have a modified keyboard that uses an Atari 5200 soundchip as an oscillator. This is the most significant quality they have which separates them from most other music.
Alice had been working with Ethan since she was 14. Ethan is a few years older than Alice and he first approached her in a run-down club when he heard her with her band. He showed her some of his work and asked her to put vocals to the ones she really liked. She described the way that they worked as: "I would pick out the songs I liked and then give him the drugs for him to make them even better".
The album is a long awaited release. We've seen Crystal Castles do remixes of Klaxons' songs and have seen their EP's but this is their first full length album, and it's an entralling peice of artwork. Yes, it's art. Modern art to be exact, because this exactly what I would imagine to be the soundtrack to throwing random colours of paint onto a pallete. Whether or not you like Crystal Castles, you really can't say that they are not unique. As hard as it is to understand most of Alice's lyrics in her singing, they are usually about her past and how she has suppressed her thoughts up until the writing of these songs.
The music itself is hard to describe, the closest summary I could come to it is 'Nintendo on Heroin'. The basslines thump straight through your head and imprint themselves onto your brain like a tumour. The sounds themselves seem to be straight out of Mario, Space Invaders and games such as those. The tracks are often crazy and multi-layered, which soon takes an effect because there is just so much going on in the songs. Their oldest and most popular is the song which was recorded by accident, Alice Practice; Which is exactly what it says on the can. Alice practising. It was leaked onto MySpace which resulted in the band receiving many label offers.
Their music takes Electro to all new levels of weird and makes music that's fit for a stoner. For music that is supposedly '8-bit', it is pretty 3D. It's so embracing, that it really stays in your mind.
The best song, and perhaps the most exciting is Love And Caring, it's tuneful Atari sounds bounce between your ears while making love to your brain cells, and taking crack cocaine at the same time. The harsh vocals fit in perfectly and make this track one to remember. Air War is a weird mix of softer sounds and computerised vocals. Some mentions of 'blue' and 'chips' during the course of the song are just the sort of weird I was talking about. Even so, it's quite an interesting form of weird. Another stand out song is Tell Me What To Swallow. Most likely because it is so different. With it's dark undertones of a peadophilliac abuse theme combined with the feel that it was home recorded, send shivers down the spine for all two minutes and seventeen seconds of it. The daunting guitars are used wisely in this and Alice's voice is so carefully put out on this that it may not be what Crystal Castles fans are used to but it shows off their serious side and lets us know that they can do so much more with music. Also I'd like to mention that because the album is ending with this song, it could be a hint at what the next album may sound like. In a way that they are saying "Hey, you've heard our fun stuff, now this is what we can really do!"
A few downsides to the record is that some of the time, the songs seem to be stuck. As if they had a good idea, but didn't know how to build on it so they just stuck the idea on the album in the hope that people might find it enjoyable (Examples of this are Reckless, 1991 and Magic Spells). It's nothing too serious but perhaps they could spend more time working on this and bringing it to perfection. I guess that's something we could look for in their next release.
So in conclusion, whatever your taste in music is, I recommend you give this album a listen. I know people who are into Metal who's guilty pleasure is Crystal Castles, Punk Rockers who can't resist putting this on now and again and Ravers who just love the new idea's. Crystal Castles have made something that once again shows music is universal and that there is alot more life which we can squeeze out of music.