Crystal Castles (II)

Studio Album by released in 2010

Crystal Castles (II) review

Crystal Castles passes to more serious electronic music

Although the Canadian experimental electronic duo Crystal Castles released its eponymous debut album in 2008, its story began five years before that. Producer Ethan Kath had a lot of ideas in his head, and to realize them he only needed a vocalist. Alice Glass sang in a noise-punk band then, and Ethan could not just pass by her talent. At first they recorded compositions with guitar accompaniment but neither her nor him liked them and they did not meet for some time. Yet Kath recorded 60 electronic tracks in 2005, Alice sang test vocals for five of them, and it turned out quite soon that those test sessions had been recorded: singles began to be released and were sold out at once. In the end, the debut record appeared in stores, and the whole Canada and then USA and Europe soon learned about the duo. This year the musicians return with the sophomore effort once again called Crystal Castles and marking the transfer to more serious electronic music.

There is practically nothing optimistic on Crystal Castles

Both on the debut and on the second record Ethan Kath is rather active in distorting Alice’s natural voice giving it most varied properties in accordance with the atmosphere on this or that composition. You will find almost nothing optimistic On Crystal Castles, on the contrary, threat, fear, mysticism, violence and very little fun prevail in its emotional spectrum, and all this is presented through the prism of a quite melancholic vision. The album starts unexpectedly loud, with birds’ shouting mixed with some other sounds of unknown origin, on Fainting Spells, it is followed by a darkish and cleared tune Celestica with a danceable beat, almost unprocessed soft vocals and memorable chorus. Contrasting with it the track Doe Deer is the heaviest and most loaded on the album, there is nothing human on it except for the utterly modified vocals. A danceable melody Baptism presents almost pop music, but the vivid electronic number Year of Silence does not let the listeners relax. One of the few tracks about something positive is Empathy, melodious and penetrating at the same time whereas another danceable number Suffocation once again tells of pain, though the audio effects here make it the best club hit candidate. A very interesting composition Birds does not only conquer with a contagious beat, but also with unusual bursting sounds, and the following three danceable tracks in a row seem to make us forget the heavy moments at the beginning but the things are not that simple. The record’s finale I Am Made of Chalk is the weirdest thing of all, it sounds like a horror film soundtrack mixed with a Trans beat, and it is very likely that many listeners will find a certain charm in it.

The album is difficult to classify in an unambiguous way

Now that Crystal Castles has released its second album we have something to compare its first work with. The point is that its music has very little in common with somebody else’s creative work, and such originality is already a big achievement. The album Crystal Castles is certainly not that chaotic, raw and unconfident as its predecessor but still many things are similar on them. Sullen, distorted, mechanical compositions are alternated with more prosaic danceable numbers therefore the album is difficult to classify in an unambiguous way – it is a mixture of styles and moods. Most probably, Ethan and Alice strive at bringing as many of their ideas as possible to the listeners and it is actually no strange thing. In the information era one is supposed to impost a whole lot of things in one record because it is going go out of date already in a year. One thing is clear – the dance music fans will not appreciate all the tracks here, those who prefer the electronic genre will find more interesting moments for them, but people with non-standard thinking, inclined to melancholy and at the same time ready for desperate actions will estimate Crystal Castles in its entity.