October 8, 2014 was a dark day for Crystal Castles fans. Stories with titles such as “Crystal Castles call it quits” saturated our newsfeeds as we sat in a corner wailing along with Not In Love and Vanished while eating copious amounts of ice cream.
No? Just Me? Okay.
Anyway, the pure despair beset upon me by the reports of Crystal Castles’ demise served only to enhance the state of pure bliss I was in the morning of April 16 when I awoke to a passive aggressive message from Ethan Kath accompanied by a Soundcloud link.
The message yielded a response from Alice Glass the next day and Kath later redacted most of the passive aggression, but that drama isn’t what’s important. There’s new Crystal Castles!
The track is called Frail and it’s signature Crystal Castles. It’s heavily distorted and is one of those tracks that melds into the background perfectly when doing anything to a beat, with just enough vocals to give you something to key into without drawing too much away from the instrumentals.
Speaking of the vocals, those on Frail are provided by someone referred to only as “Edith”. Though, they’re virtually indistinguishable from Alice Glass’ due in large part to abundant distortion.
Overall, it’s a solid track, but it doesn’t stand out too much when compared to the rest of their discography. You can listen to it on Crystal Castles’ Soundcloud, linked above.
With Ethan Kath releasing new music under the Crystal Castles moniker and Alice Glass set to release new music in the coming months, it’s an exciting time for Crystal Castles fans. Only time will tell if their split was better for listeners or not.
been a Shlohmo fan for years now,
so I bought tickets to his show as soon as he announced a tour. That was way back around
the start of the year.
I whiled away the months
leading to the show by revisiting his impressive discography. I’ve long
considered his Laid Out EP to be a
In March, Shlohmo dropped his new album, Dark Red. The
album was a stunning departure from his previous releases. But it still had all
those classic Shlohmo elements, like menacing basslines and warped notes.
Definitely an album worth checking out.
music isn’t the dance-y kind. His music reminds me of dark basements and scary
nights and pain and zombie apocalypses. It’s pretty great. That’s why I was
surprised when I started dancing at the show. Everyone was dancing. It was
probably because Shlohmo’s basslines were even more immense on Neumos’s bumping sound system. Shout
out my ear drums for not exploding.
I love it when electronic
artists bring out a band. Shlohmo brought out a drummer and a guitarist and
also occasionally wielded a guitar himself.
The light show was crazy
intense. The lights and the music complemented each other beautifully, surging
and receding in harmony. At times, shrouded by the spotlights, Shlohmo seemed angelic.
He mostly played cuts off
his new album, but didn’t forget fan favorites like Places and Later. Later is my favorite Shlohmo song ever.
I cried sweet tears of joy when it came on. Well, maybe not. Nonetheless, I was
About an hour into the
set, Shlohmo and the band just ran off the stage without warning. “Is that it?”
Hell no. The lights flared
up and Shlohmo ran back up on stage. He grabbed the microphone and reassured us,
“That was a joke. This is real life now!” He played us one last amazing song.
Then, unfortunately, it was over.
My one beef with the show
was that the two openers, Purple and Nick Melons, had sets that lasted
about an hour each. That’s a bit long, as openers go. I was restless, standing
on sore feet waiting for Shlohmo to come out. But the openers were pretty tight
so it was cool I guess.
Jaapur’s latest release starts out as a series of digital noise. Its momentum and tones feel like a throwback to the over-dubbed days of 8-bit remixes. A series of high and low pass filters add dynamics to the track, which make “Double Much.aac” an excellent introduction to the eclectic (yet satisfying) Organic.
The second track, “Conclusion.txt” starts out quietly as it, like the other songs on the album, plays off of the various computer file-naming conventions. Bass-heavy and trance-like, the contrast between synths and snares provides a basis on which to build a vibrant system of sounds. The melody alternates between instruments, each subsequent variation adding to the last. Towards the middle of the track, the rhythm becomes increasingly danceable, each instrument battling for its turn in the spotlight.
Following the quick-to-end instrumental that came before it, “Effigy.jpg” traces the line between highs and lows. Each synthetic instrument stays within its chosen scale – the unique sounds finding their individual places in the track. Various voices interrupt the flow, interjecting with plays on the name of the song. Although the bass line leaves something to be desired, the catchy chorus makes this track one of my favorites on the album.
The album continues in various forms, the tracks in themselves progressive as they build along with the broken pieces of the same theme. An occasional rap-track, featuring iamlogan and (most likely) Jaapur himself, can be found on the album – the flow, slow to match the tempo.
From disco beats to trance suites, Organic takes us back to a time before heavy-hitting bass lines ruled the boiler room. Be sure to take a good listen to the standouts (embedded below), “Akebono.flac” and “But Do You Know” which features Sarah Rain, Jaapur’s IRL sister, on vocals.
This last week I hopped on a bus and headed to Capitol Hill to see Giraffage play at Neumos. I had seen Giraffage once before when he played a free show at UC Berkeley, and even with a pathetic sound system he still rocked it.
I had never been to Neumos before, but I was happy with the layout. It was a small enough venue to provide an intimate concert experience while still being large enough for everyone to have room to dance.There was a fairly large balcony area for those who were 21 or older in addition to the large area of floorspace for all ages to dance.
We arrived hella early, I’m not sure why, but when we got there the very first opener was still on. He was a short kid who refused to put his hat fully on his head named DJ HoJo. He was not bad I suppose; we only saw about ten minutes of his set so its hard to assess his talent. He played mainly electronic, bass heavy PLUR music. For those who are unaware what PLUR is, it’s basically just a thing that raver kids say, although in reality it stands for Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect. PLUR music can be defined by artists such as Porter Robinson and Zeds Dead.
When DJ HoJo got off the stage, Spazzkid came on, looking very hipster with his thick-rimmed glasses and perfectly sculpted manbun (please make this trend stop people). Spazzkid’s set consisted mainly of somewhat slow, dancey electro stuff. I wasn’t a huge fan of this set mainly because most of the songs he played were hard to dance to. There was usually no steady rhythm with which you could move to. Additionally, about halfway through his set he turned into some sort of radio host. He said distracting stuff into the microphone between each song. “New shit,” “Shout out to Porter Robinson,” “Shout out to Ta-Ku,” “New stuff right here.” I swear he must have sent a shout out to each least seven different artists. He did do some random singing that I found went well with the tracks he was playing and was fairly entertaining. However, all in all, I was not heartbroken to see him leave the stage.
Then Giraffage took the stage. He was humble as hell, speaking really quietly into the microphone: “hi guys….” pause for applause, “my name is Giraffage” another pause for applause, “I’m gonna play some music for you” and then he got into it. I, as well as many others in the crowd, was very happy to hear him play a lot of his older tracks, most of which were off of the “Comfort” album. Thankfully he did not follow in Spazzkid’s footsteps and blurt random crap into the microphone; he let the music do the talking. His set had enough groovy songs to get people dancing, only ever interrupted by build ups and drops. He played a couple of really old EDM tracks that were popular like seven years ago. I wasn’t super into this but I guess other people were. I have to admit that the bass was definitely not loud enough on the speakers, or perhaps the treble was too loud, but either way there were some sounds that were just too abrasive and some drops that just didn’t slap hard enough.
His set ended after about an hour, and then after leaving the stage momentarily, he was summoned by the crowd for an encore, which he utilized to play his Janet Jackson remix of “Someone to Call My Lover”. This is my favorite Giraffage track so naturally I was pretty stoked when he played it. After the song ended he received another well-deserved round of applause and the show was over. I enjoyed myself, and it seemed that other people did as well. I would see him again if given the chance.