Crystal Castles broke out from obscurity back in 2005 off the back of some pretty vicious online releases. The term ‘vicious’ is not an exaggeration by the way – it would probably be fair to say that if computers could dream, then these tracks would be the sound of their nightmares.
Ethan Kath brought the raucous, 8-bit electro destruction whilst Alice Glass added her unsettling scream-vocals to the mix, resulting in an aural melting pot of computer-based dystopia. When the Toronto synth-punks coupled this uniquely brutal sound with even more brutal live performances, the music industry wasn’t just interested, it was frothing at the mouth.
Whilst those early demos were a searing concoction of frenzied Gameboy glitches and visceral shrieks, III is a record where such concerted intensity takes a back seat.
Having already established their reputation for carnage, now it seems that the duo are out to showcase their skill in creating truly atmospheric electro-pop. Nowhere is this displayed more clearly than on Affection, where Glass’s angelic vocals are wreathed in euphoric, Chemical Brothers-esque synths.
Yes, there a certainly lows (Sad Eyes is more trashy Euro-disco than cutting edge EDM); but the duo’s penchant for innovation means that there are definitely a lot more highs. Pounding bass-groover Kerosene is intriguing in that it manages to be both soothing and invigorating, whilst the thrilling Insulin sounds more like a colossal battle in space between the war-machines of the future than anything a laptop should be able to produce. If Kath’s standing as one of electronic music’s foremost movers and shakers was ever in doubt, then this record surely puts this right.
Crystal Castles have never had a problem making harsh, sharp-edges electro – what they prove with III is that they can tone it down a notch as well.