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Crystal Castles [II] CD

4.0 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (24 May 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Polydor
  • ASIN: B003H8F566
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 33,135 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

1. Fainting Spells
2. Celestica
3. Doe Deer
4. Baptism
5. Year Of Silence
6. Empathy
7. Suffocation
8. Violent Dreams
9. Vietnam
10. Birds
11. Pap Smear
12. Not In Love
13. Intimate
14. I Am Made Of Chalk

BBC Review

Few recent indie bands have worked music fans and commentators alike into the sort of love-hate lather that Ontario's gothic rave duo Crystal Castles did in 2008. First, Ethan Kath and Alice Glass conjured up a rare kind of parent- and old critic-baiting pop sound by refracting the most full-on, euphoric and comic elements from trance, rave and electro through the snot-flecked lens of their childhood punk rock. It was a wailing expression of anger and dissolution that saw the duo play both shoddy and totally compelling gigs with such nihilistic abandon you feared for the life of front-lady Glass.

They also came across like surly teenagers. To say they got a bit of a reputation for being contrary prima donnas in some quarters is an understatement. But look beyond all the non-compliant interviews, the god-awful live shows and those nerve-grating 8-bit computer sounds that got them lumped in with the chiptune massive and there was evidence on their debut album that they knew how to craft a pop tune with great emotional heft. Whether from a wall of cacophony fronted by Glass's banshee wail or a dreamy wash of spine-tingling melodies, there was definitely something there.

It's this gauzy tendency that dominates their follow-up, suggesting they've either a) made peace with something or b) it's actually an icy, whacked-out bleakness being expressed, that points to the sort of deeper problems they seem quite capable of being involved with. Still, it's a largely terrific return that retains all of the weirdness and edge of their debut but allows the tunes to win through at the expense of unnecessary glitch and red-raw distortion.

The wonderfully titled Pap Smear–a sign the band haven't exactly warmed to the press–sounds a lot like early Björk. Year of Silence suggests a musical three-way between glam metal-era Marilyn Manson, angular gloomtronica duo The Knife and Lady Gaga, Glass's indecipherable vocal coda reminiscent of Bad Romance. The song most likely to be played in Urban Outfitters is Celestica, a swoonsome, pillow-soft relation of Untrust Us from their debut. Elsewhere, influences of M83, Ellen Allien and whirring Italo-disco all rear their tuneful heads.

Penultimate track Intimate shows they can still brood and kick dust with the sulkiest of punk kids, roaring with the white noise of indignation and screeching wildly. But by going light on oppressive darkness, Crystal Castles have allowed their obvious skill for writing dramatic pop with weird inflections twinkle through, helped along by more than just blazing anger. --Chris Parkin

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By The Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 May 2010
Format: Audio CD
Looking back over my wayward musings I gave Crystal Castles'
eponymous 2008 debut a brief but favorable review. With their
second delivery 'Crystal Castles II' I see no reason to abandon
them. Ethan Kath and Alice Glass are back with a collection of
fourteen uncompromising but highly accessible compositions.

The overall sound of the album is "crunchy". The treatments of
Ms Glass' voice conceal more than they reveal; this, despite the
often jolly dance-friendly nature of the arrangements, brings a
nicely sinister flavour to the proceedings. (The artwork is pretty
creepy too!)

'Celestica' has an almost-pretty breathy vocal floating over the
insistant beats. Waves of melancholy synth chords flow in and out
of the mix helping to sustain an uneasy dreamlike ambience.

'Doe Deer', however, is the stuff of nightmares. Ms Glass screeches
like a mad witch with a bad grudge. The inner-violence of the track
may be a tad unnerving for the faint-hearted. Uneasy-listening.

'Year Of Silence' is another sombre slice of stripped-down techno.
(Miss Kittin came to mind more than once). The thumping rhythm
would doubtless go down well in some of the darker corners of
contemporary urban clubland. (The kind of place where everyone
wears black and never smiles!)

'Suffocation', despite its ponderous title, delivers a glimpse of
warmth here and there with its almost-uplifting, anthemic theme.

'Birds' is a particularly interesting confection. The squelchy
beats, great crashing grungy chords and demented vocals outline
a territory which would have interested the venerable Mr Hitchcock,
were he still with us today.
Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
This band has a very unique sound, no one is like them (that i know of). This is an excellent follow up to their preivious album, you can tell its crystal castles but this album has a more euphoric dance feel to it but sounds more mature than there previous album. To be honnest i liked the first album but i love this one! Definatly the best album i have listened to this year. if you liked the first Crystal Castles Album this is a must buy!
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Format: Audio CD
My first exposure to CC was via the tracks Untrust Us and Crimewave that were made available through a free Nine Inch Nails Tour ep download. I liked those very much, but nothing prepared me for absorbing the entirety of this gem.

Minimal yet densely layered, CC have crafted what has already become my favourite album of the year, and possibly one of my all time faves.

Opener - Fainting Spells is a disorientating beginning that gives way to the quite beautiful and melodic Celestica. Then abruptly Doe Deer assaults with its brief but disarming sonic aggressiveness. Baptism continues this energy but sounds like an offshoot of 90's rave infused with electro punk. The following four tracks - Year Of Silence, Empathy, Suffocation and Violent Dreams are all standout tracks, but by now the standard has already been set and thankfully the following tracks continue the trend.

Closing track I am Made Of Chalk begins in a cloud of distortion but gradually introduces a wash of synth sounds and remodulated vocal layering and other assorted sound bites. A lovely end to an album that manages to cram claustophobia, melancholy and discord and more besides into some the most original and idiosyncratic electronic music that has ever graced my ears.

As a consequence of this I then bought their first album which is made up of demos, singles and such like, so considering that, CC (II) should really be considered their first true album. Highly recommended.
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Format: Audio CD
Ethan Kath has been using atari 8-bit sound chips for his synths for a few years now,which creates a unique synth sound, here on the second Crystal Castles album, the canadian duo have created a softened but also improved sound.

The angry screeches and synth squeals have been replaced by symphonic variants, akin to the european house sounds of the last 15 years but fear not, there is still the atari sound chips and the buzzing,frenetic,glacial 'Castles sound.

To improve on their remarkable debut album was always going to be difficult but this album is a rich cathedral of sound, with fewer samples and a direction towards a more mature sound.

Its difficult to compare anyone to these two in modern alternative music, they fit well into the alternative scene but nobody comes from such an interesting angle ,using '80's computer chips!. The sounds created are anything but limited and in fact the atari chips give the synths a unique sound,tinnier but also somewhat fresher than modern synths,.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There is a lot to like about this album. It's cool as a frozen cucumber, while still managing to be lively and energising. Celestica will make you feel like you are cucooned in spider's silk, or like you are Lot's wife turned to a pillar of salt and completely mute. It is seductive and suffocating at the same time. On the other end of the spectrum, Baptism is an angry, ripping musical eqivalent of Van Gogh chopping his own ear off, and is quite brilliant.

However, there are some duff notes. Fainting Spells is terrible as an opening track. It may be intended as something 'experimental' and 'edgy', but it just comes across as a load of annoying, screechy noise. It is not a pleasant or enlightening experience to be thrust into an album with bleeding ears and general confusion. On the other hand, Not in Love is easy, polished listening but makes one feel slightly cheated. It is all shimmer and no substance. The other problem with the album is that, although there are a lot of good tracks, and although some consideration has gone into the ordering of the tracks (Unlike in [I]), it doesn't feel like a coherent whole. Crystal Castles only manage that in [III]. [II] is a collection of songs, some of them very good, that have some connection to one another but do not form a single body of work.

That said, it is definitely an album worth listening to, and I would recommend it.
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