Thursday 16 December 2010

Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles

At some point in the course of this year I lost all confidence in my ability to convey my enthusiasm about music. I couldn't write a single sentence about some of my favourite records.
One of the things that appeals to me when I read reviews of records that I like is the number of stories people tell - about how they relate to music, about how their specific situations influence how they understand music.
So here it is, the point where I have to bring Skins into this again. I've obviously been pre-occupied with the British show this year. One of the side-effects of obsessively writing about it and waiting for news about the next season was enjoying all the music that comes with the show. I can't think of a simple example of a tv show that so consistently finds perfect songs that add another layer of meaning to each scene - and this is so true in the case of Skins that the scenes in which the music was used, for me, adds another meaning to the songs as well. When I think about Crystal Castles, I think about Alice Practice as used in this episode. Even worse, before they appeared on the show and without that scene in mind, I probably wouldn't feel any kind of connection to this band. I would lack the necessary context (mostly since I would not dare to go to one of their concerts and come back black and blue but with awesome stories to tell).
On the surface, Crystal Castles seems to be music that must be enjoyed as part of a crowd, or maybe that is even the wrong term. A mass. A horde. The lyrics are cryptic at best ("the final chrysalis / self-controlled consciousness" - Empathy), in the case of Year of Silence, they're in Icelandic (and it is probably more about how the sounds of the language fit the music anyways). The songs were recorded in Icelandic churches, a cabin in Ontario and an abandonded store in Detroit - and the listener might guess the mythical locations even without knowing, as they translate seamlessly into the songs.
There are so many incredible songs on this record that work on their own, (especially Fainting Spells, Celestica, Baptism, Empathy, Vietnam)  and still I wouldn't really want to listen to them out of the context of the whole thing. As soon as the songs start to play, there is an immediate emotional response, a demand. "The possibilities, the glamour, the romance, the danger, the underdog ambition, the lifeblood"

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