Amnesty (I) Crystal Castles

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  • 1Femen02:33
  • 2Fleece02:35
  • 3Char03:08
  • 4Enth03:29
  • 5Sadist02:30
  • 6Teach Her How To Hunt01:56
  • 7Chloroform03:09
  • 8Frail02:49
  • 9Concrete03:16
  • 10Ornament04:08
  • 11Their Kindness Is Charade03:45
  • Total Runtime33:18

Info for Amnesty (I)

Crystal Castles are an experimental electronic band formed in 2003 in Toronto, Ontario by songwriter/producer Ethan Kath, known for their chaotic live shows and lo-fi melancholic homemade productions. They released many limited vinyl singles between 2006 and 2007 before releasing a trilogy of critically acclaimed albums between 2008 and 2012. Their debut album, Crystal Castles, was released in 2008 and was listed on NME's "Top 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade". In 2010 their second album, titled (II), charted on the Billboard 200, and includes their first worldwide charting single, "Not In Love", featuring vocalist Robert Smith of The Cure. Their third album, (III), was released on November 12, 2012 and was the number 1 album of 2012 on Tumblr and also on Hype Machine.

„Amnesty is a great comeback from the threatening brink of extinction for Crystal Castles. The dealing in of Edith Frances on vocals has no negative effects on the release. Kath’s apt producing and guiding of the content leads to a satisfying release that will thrill their fans. Their sound seems to be the perfect soundtrack for the disjointed chaos that seems to permeate 2016. Amnesty like all of Crystal Castle’s output is informed by the heavily political and contrarian underflow the band is famous for and could be best described as confrontational dance music. Darkwave many not be everyone’s cup of tea but this album is the top of the crest for those who enjoy the genre and an excellent gateway for those listeners who are curious.“ (Lori Gava, xsnoize)

Ethan Kath, vocals, instruments
Edith Frances, vocals
Christopher Chartrand, drums

Crystal Castles
Toronto-based duo Crystal Castles, i.e. singer Alice Glass and multi-instrumentalist Ethan Kath, came up with an exhilarating mix of psychotic vocals and digital beats to concoct the futuristic rave music of Crystal Castles (PIAS, 2008), that basically collected the singles of the previous four years. The music exploits two simple ideas: 1. the noise of vintage videogame consoles of the 1970s and 2. the jovial beat of synth-pop of the 1980s. Most songs are built around either or both of these excuses. Hence the ping-pong beat for the anthemic melody of Untrust Us, the pounding beat and frenzied cacophony for the desperate shouting of XXZXCUZX Me, the booming elastic drum-machine and videogame-like synth lines for the dejected litany of Crimewave, the syncopated ballet and shrill tonefest for the wordless Air War (2007), the abrasive and quasi-comic synths for the childish rant of Courtship Dating, etc. Here the digital hardcore of Alice Practice (their debut single of 2006) is a reminder of how they used to push the envelope. When they stray away from their standard, the results are disappointing, whether the harmless ambient intermezzo Magic Spells or the melodic mid-tempo ballad Vanished. And, with the exception of the exuberant Black Panther, the last six or so tracks are disposable variations on the old singles. The music of this album is highly derivative of the 1980s but just edgy enough to target a new generation.

Crystal Castles II (Fiction, 2010) opens with a far more austere declaration of intents: Fainting Spells, a symphonic nightmare that revolves around expressionist screams. The grotesquely abrasive and aggressive Doe Deer ranks as their most punkish moment yet. Birds is a darkly incoherent slab of abrasive noise kept under control, and I Am Made Of Chalk explores the border between ambient music and musique concrete. For pure dance acrobatics, the winner is the instrumental Intimate.

However, it's the easy-listening melody and the steady disco beat of Celestica and Pap Smear that clarify the new course: dispensing with videogame cacophony, the focus has shifted towards a simpler strategy to conquer the dancefloor. Hence, a number of trivial and sometimes truly tedious variations on the midtempo ballad format, from the trancey Empathy to the atmospheric Vietnam. Even Baptism, theoretically their wild rave novelty, is, in reality, relatively uneventful house music. It is telling that the highlight of the second half of the album is a cover of Platinum Blonde's rousing Not In Love. Whichever album one prefers (the harsh and mostly instrumental one or the soft and mostly sung one), the role of the vocalist has greatly diminished.

III (Fiction, 2012), proudly recorded without the use of computers, suffers from a sound that is nonetheless heavily processed while not being hostile enough, with the singer's soft melodic moans buried layers and layers of hallucinogenic sound effects. Judged as a disco-pop effort, the album's highlights are Plague, a languid anthem of house music with stuttering synths and monk-like choir; Wrath of Godd, an effective combination of thumping drum-machine and apocalyptic keyboard lines; and the Abba-esque Sad Eyes with its contrast of lashing electronics and sensual vocals that symbolizes the contrast of teenage angst and lust. The difference between Crystal Castles and the synth-pop duos of the Eurythmics era is that here the vocals drift aimlessly into the electronic "castle" instead of providing its punch line, its very reason of existence. There is comedy in the gothic, tribal Siouxsie Sioux-esque dance Transgender grafted onto a parodistic Aqua-esque beat (a beat that segues naturally into the hilarious while nostalgic polka Violet Youth). And there is drama in the edgy melodrama Pale Fles, where she finally screams instead of moaning, and fear in the expressionist ballet Insulin. Neither extreme prevails, and so the music, neither ludic nor existential, inhabits a limbo between the galvanizing dancefloor and the melancholic bedroom.

This album contains no booklet.

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