Okay, I'm a touch thunderstruck and not sure how to start this, so we'll go with: I enjoy a wide variety of music. Shoegazer, grunge, black metal, gangsta rap, screamo, whatever. I try to hear as wide a variety of tuneage as possible to keep my horizons clear for incoming genius. Oftentimes I'll hear music and maybe I like the instrumentation but the lyrics blow. Or maybe they've got an awesome vocalist but there's not enough of a beat to hold on to. Therefore, I get picky. I can hang with about any type of music but a secret part of me longs to get hold of a sound that's truly original, a style that's fresher than a package of altoids.

Along comes Crystal Castles. I vaguely remember the name crossing my eyes a few years back but it's tough to track every new band you hear of. This particular sonic assault squad is a duo consisting of multi-instrumentalist Ethan Kath and Alice Glass, vocalist. They're from Toronto and hit the scene around 2004 or so. This self-titled album I'm reviewing came out in spring of 2008. They took their name from the palace of She-Ra, an 80's cartoon (that they claim to never have seen). Apparently, they began as an experiment and Kath posted some songs with Glass trying out vocals. He posted them to MySpace. By the time he checked back to see what his buddies thought, the band had offers from three record labels.

As to Crystal Castle's sound - I have no idea how you'd classify it. Pixellated sonic terrorism? Asylum dance music? Post-apocalyptic digipunk? Your guess is as good as mine, but the bottom line is they end up using a ton of crazy digital effects on both the music itself and Glass' voice, as well. They've said they use a keyboard hacked to include an Atari 5200 sound chip. Some people say they stole (borrowed without giving credit) from the chiptunes community. In case you've not heard of chiptunes, it's essentially a genre that utilized computer-generated (especially video game hardware) sounds that you might have heard on an old 8-bit Nintendo game. The bottom line ends up being that Crystal Castles truly creates a world of music that's deliciously submersive.

Right away when I qued up the album, the song "Untrust Us" gave me crazy Karnov flashbacks and the weird vocals fit in there amazingly well. The "Alice Practice" song that started it all showcases Glass' voice ripping and tearing through space and straight into your brain! Trying to describe this stuff left me thinking more of imagery: it's like a towering anime robot powered purely by angst or maybe the sensation of being trapped behind a haze of prescriptions and wireless devices trying to find your own emotions. You seriously don't need drugs to go with this music because the music itself ends up being the drug. That's about the highest praise I can give any band today.

Crystal Castles sounds like today, right this very moment. In a crazy world getting flashbacks of the Cold War emanating from from former Soviet territory we all seem so interconnected via digital means while still essentially locked up in cells. For me, what Crystal Castles offers is a bizarre way of looking at things through truly artistic methods. It's almost a "chopped and screwed" style of punk. The lyrics paint vivid pictures but they don't tell you what to think. SongMeanings has a big collection of Crystal Castle lyrics and I absolutely encourage you to take a look. Maybe Crystal Castles won't be for everyone but for those of us who've been waiting for a musical revolution: here it is!

Savor it.


Lyrics submitted by mike

Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles song meanings
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    General CommentI'm in love with Crystal Castles, and one of my favorite songs by them is Untrust Us. So glad this got posted maybe more people will finally take a little while to check out this amazig album!
    viarockgirlon August 14, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCrystal Castles are the epitimy of crap. Seriously, they are just a myspace hipster hype band. Theres little skill in their "music" atall, brings shame to all good electronic music.
    CoolJackon August 17, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've liked Crystal Castles for a while now, and I never realized how popular they were on myspace until a while ago. Every song is just so catchy.
    diamond lightson August 19, 2008   Link

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