CD: Crystal Castles - (III) | New music reviews, news & interviews
CD: Crystal Castles - (III)
Canadian duo's third is their best so far
Crystal Castles are a perverse and, consequently, exciting outfit. The Canadian duo of Ethan Kath and Alice Glass, producer and singer, front it out to their public in the manner of venom-fuelled nihilist industrial punks. At their concerts their music becomes a squall of noisy attack, the band encouraging riotous behaviour and Glass mutating into a snarling dervish. As interviewees they are the height of bored rudeness, especially Glass. It’s as if Crystal Castles wish they were Skinny Puppy or Ministry or someone truly gnarly, yet their lovely, doomy albums are in a whole different league of originality and approachability.
The press release for (III) says that their third album, named after the band just like the other two, was recorded directly onto tape with no computers involved and with “oppression… a theme, in general”. Glass adds, “I didn’t think I could lose faith in humanity any more than I already had” but now feels that the “world is a dystopia”. The result of all this misery is their best album so far, building on two that already set the bar high. The Atari chip-tune sonics have long gone as they paint on a broader, more dramatic canvas. Whatever Glass is singing is often not audible as Kath has treated her vocals until they’ve become another ghost in his machine, flitting through his pulsing electro-scapes, every song laced with sweeping synth sweetness of a profoundly melancholy nature.
With one noisy exception (“Insulin”), every song is a imbued with mournful brilliance, which is saying something when the vocals are occasionally transformed into a gerbil-esque squeak, as on the bass rumbling “Kerosene”, or blatantly car-crashed into a parallel universe version of Euro-trance, as on “Sad Eyes”. Crystal Castles make music that sounds like no-one else, at once cheap-sounding, lo-fi and underground, yet with an off-the-wall beauty that truly has a visionary sweep.
Watch the video for "Plague"
We at The Arts Desk hope that you have been enjoying our coverage of the arts. If you like what you’re reading, do please consider making a donation. A contribution from you will help us to continue providing the high-quality arts writing that won us the Best Specialist Journalism Website award at the 2012 Online Media Awards. To make a one-off contribution click Donate or to set up a regular standing order click Subscribe.
With thanks and best wishes from all at The Arts Desk
more New music
The pioneer of continuous music astonishes while Bon Iver’s preferred artist Gregory Euclide paints live, on stage
Mouthy London trio's debut is loaded with enjoyable bawdiness and attitude
Easy listening and continental European intellectualism combine on the early albums from pop’s wilful auteur
Stylistic mash-ups of album number six result in perfect pop
The entertaining tale of the protracted birth of a British rock scene which took America on at its own game
Do YOU believe the hype?
Good things happen when one of Air collaborates with New Young Pony Clubber
Indie rockers go from strength to strength on album number six
Long-standing Swedish duo produce enjoyable if hit-and-miss electro-pop
Documentary paints the legendary Cream drummer Ginger Baker as an irresponsible genius
Old school rockers mix Little Richard and The Cramps to pack a ferocious punch
A captivating and beautiful album featuring songs that are strongly narrative-driven