Saturday, August 30, 2008

Crystal Castles/Crystal Castles

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"With all of the turmoil surrounding Toronto-based, electronic pop duo Crystal Castles and their dispute with artist Trevor Brown, it’s easy to hang a cloud over their music. Apparently, the two parties are dead-locked in a legal issue regarding the band’s illegal or legal use (depends on who you ask) of one of his paintings. Surprisingly, the digipak album comes with a small poster of the questioned painting at hand — oh the things you learn when you purchase music instead of downloading everything! Well, that’s another topic for another day. Through all of this, it is worth noting that with their self-titled debut, Ethan Kath and Alice Glass have concocted one of the best electronic albums of the year.

The album is filled with soft and mellow songs like “Magic Spells” that are utterly captivating. Sampling Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five’s classic song, “The Message,” the way Kath manipulates the sounds is astounding. Other songs like the abrasive and edgy “Alice Practice” are nice offerings of punk rock music. The story is that this song was a complete accident as Kath recorded Glass one day when she was warming up, laid it to some frenetic video game sounds and hyper beats and mashed everything together. The fruition is a loud and screeching song that adds dimension to the album’s overall electronic sound.

The band takes their name from the fictional castle in the “She-Ra” animated series and are notorious for combining a fresh mix of grimy beats, melodic undertones, punk and rock music and video game sounds. The band placed an Atari 5200 sound chip inside one of their keyboards to help in creating these distinctive and interesting tones.

What really holds the album together is the way it is stylishly sequenced. Change of paces happen and come in at just the right times. After the water-bubble sounds of “Knights,” the next song, “Love and Caring,” features the catchiest drum beat on the album along with Glass’ shrieking vocals and yes, more video game sounds! And the bookends are brilliant choices: “Untrust Us” begins with an infectious melody line and encompasses some of Glass’ prettiest vocals; “Tell Me What to Swallow” ends the album with showcasing a human side to the band as they strip everything down and get away from all of the machines to create a somber and gentle, ethereal ending. Glass practically whispers the words and the music is lifting and placid.

Whatever ends up happening with the Castles’ legal issues, we shouldn’t overlook what a strong album this is. With Crystal Castles’ infectious, eclectic music, this is easily one of the highlights of the year and a great addition to the super-genre that is electronic music."

Find the full review here

What do you get when you throw in an atari, a gameboy, and LSD into the mix? What the f***, right? Well, the answer is actually quite simple: Crystal Castles. I seriously fell in love with the album on the first playthrough, and with each time I listen to it, the love grows. Admittedly, it's not for everyone, but those in the mood for something trippy might find that the Canadian duo is right up their alley =]

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