If any band knows the beautiful inadequacies of the internet age, it must be Crystal Castles. Their sound in itself is one that would’ve likely been lost to the sands of time without the distribution possibilities that being online brings. From the very off they’ve courted both a new breed of technology savvy fans and controversy. Their famous ‘black-eyed Madonna’ t-shirt was used without having proper image rights and their earliest tracks used samples without permission. Despite the setbacks, Ethan kath and Alice Glass have managed to become one of the most prominent noises of the new millenium with their signature sample and distortion heavy sound.
of course, with such a mantle comes a great amount of pressure, with the new breed of on-demand music fans demanding an endless pit of new material without the wait. Album leaks now seem inevitable rather than unfortunate, no matter what measures artists take to try protect themselves. A duo who’s whole timbre feels as though it belongs is circuit boards and hard drives, there was appropriately swift action taken when Castles Castles second album appeared online, with the digital release brought forward almost 2 months in an attempt to stem the damage done to the project.
What must have been tragic for Fiction records has turned into a superb twist of fate for everyone else. What’s clear from the very start is that this isn’t going to be the same animal as the debut. Whilst they’ve still got the punk sensibilities that saw them cover HEALTH’s Crimewave a few years back, this is a much more measured outlet for it, taking the more introverted moments of their past and building upon it. Alice doesn’t take such a frontal role anymore either, preferring to dart in and amongst the Kath’s glitch laden beats, acting more as an instrument or sample herself rather than a vocalist.
there’s still more than a hint of the old band that we fell in love with all those summers ago, with Doe Deer probably more rocky than anything else they’ve done in the past, utilising the same jaunty, angular waves of noise than made xxzxcuzx me a dance floor favourite, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. There’s a whole new repertoire of sounds on display throughout – Birds emphatically being the best example, taking the lessons learnt from dubstep’s ascent and ripping them up. The album’s main weapon is its flexibility – the reaction from fans is, already, ecstatic, whilst it has more than enough in it to win over the many doubters. This generation of listeners may feel that music is something ephemeral but these 14 tracks stand above that already, with a vision and depth that makes a mockery of those who placed them alongside the throwaway acts of New Rave a few years back. Class of 2010, be ready – Crystal Castles are ready to bewitch you all over again.
Crystal Castles – Vietnam (LightsOverLA remix)
[download from culture of me]