Here's the second artist profile write up that I wrote for CounterPoint Fest on Crystal Castles.
Crystal Castles are completely difficult to categorize. Chiptune, Witch House, Electro-Goth… all those terms for electronic based music that hipsters throw around to seem in the know… Those would all be applicable. However you choose to define Crystal Castles, you can’t deny the equivalent amount of energy and dismay that they bring to their music.
Hailing from Toronto, Crystal Castles is Ethan Kath and Alice Glass. Ethan was an electronic producer who met Alice when she was just 15. They cut some demos together, and out of those sessions was born the first Crystal Castles track “Alice Practice.” The pair went their separate ways for some time after that, but the tracks kicked around the internet and slowly started gaining some attention. Kath and Glass got back in the studio and put together what would become their first self-titled album in 2008. With its 8-bit sounds and Alice’s haunting vocals, it received an incredible amount of buzz. Unsettling and bleak yet all the while haunting and beautiful, the album was unlike anything else coming out at that time.
Their sound has maintained its gothic roots and became more polished over time. More complexity and bigger sounds came as another self-titled album dropped in 2010. The album was very well received and acclaimed, bringing together fans and detractors of their early work. Songs like “Celestica” and “Vietnam” broadened their sound and depth. The album also featured “I’m Not In Love” and when released as a single, they recruited fellow moper and fan Robert Smith of The Cure on vocals.
Crystal Castles w/ Robert Smith “I’m Not In Love”
Since the release of their last self-titled album, the band has been out on the road touring virtually nonstop. Crystal Castles have always impressed with their hazardous live performances. Alice regularly climbs scaffolding and wrecks drum kits. She’s punched security guards, knocked out a fan with a mic, and after breaking her ankle on stage, had to wear a walking boot for shows. Ethan just rocks away on the synths and programming, not really paying much attention to the chaotic whirlwind Alice creates. All this adds to the legend and the mystique of the band.
To go along with all the bizarre behavior, they don’t exactly have sunny personalities either. Quoting from Alice on the Crystal Castles Tumblr in regards to their shows, “Everyone’s invited to have fun, but… we don’t really care if you don’t.” Ethan was quoted on the upcoming yet-untitled (bur probably self-titled) album "We never do meaningless, every song we write is bleak. We don't want anything else." Oh and here’s the new tune with the sunshiny title “Plague”.
Crystal Castles “Plague” (Free Download)
So maybe it won’t be the “feel good” set of the weekend. If you want happy and shiny and polished, go see Avicii. If you want bass drops go see Bassnectar and Skrillex. Crystal Castles will be exciting and dark. They will be loud and Alice will scream like a possessed banshee. But you’ll be hooked and riveted the entire time. And they will certainly be one of the best live sets of the weekend.
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