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Weekly Release Spotlight: Crystal Castles

Posted on 1/14/2013


Crystal Castles

[Fiction / Casablanca / Universal Republic]

To begin talking about Crystal Castles, one must address the photo encasing this  work. Even before listening the tone is set in a picture of Fatima al-Qaws cradling her son Zayed who is suffering from the effects of tear gas after participating in a demonstration in Sanaa, Yemen. If the album can be summed up in one word, it should be “warning”. Crystal Castles vocalist Alice Glass puts it this way "There's lots of themes, but feeling, like, oppressed… A lot of things not personally happening to us, since the past record, but people we know, kind of profoundly influenced everything. Like, I didn't think I could lose faith in humanity any more than I already had, but after witnessing some things, it just… the world is a dystopia. I'm one step away from being a vigilante. I've thought about it."With this in mind it should add depth to her chilling voice echoing on "kerosene" - "I'll protect you from all the things I've seen."

The electro duo’s third album, entitled (III), is an honest attempt at capturing the anxiety towards suffering on tape. And interestingly enough “(III)” is Ethan Cath’s first attempt at solo-ing a production, who has a “strictly no computers” ethic, preferring to put the process straight to tape. This ethic may be conducive to the album’s high strung and hopeless feeling within. There is no way to escape the crushing intensity and anxiety of this album, even when it becomes apparent the duo is well aware of its prowess in EDM circles. This awareness is precisely what makes Crystal Castles so honest and keeps them afloat in a genera that seemed to be birthed from their initial release. The high energy and rave-like beats are thrown through this filter of Crystal Castle’s dystopian design, but EDM is always within the periphery.

Crystal Castles’ unique quality comes to surface, most transparently; on the tracks “Sad Eyes” and “Telepath” were it would seem no amount of energy was spared in adding layer over layer of expensive, frosty, synth to hold-fast the over-powering tension from the piercing drum and echo of Glass’ angelic shrieking. Much of Glass’ lyricism seems to come from a place of higher understanding, or at least we are led to believe she is infallible, in her attempts to both sooth and shock her audience. In each track it seems Glass is both frustrated and endearing towards her audience that is unable to comprehend the crushing weight of imperfection and grinding suffering that is rampant in modernity. Or, much like a mother cradling her idealistic son in the aftermath of his attempts to change the world for the better.

Written by Jerod Greenisen, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: Crystal Castles Weekly Release Spotlight