chips [pop jamz 08]

Crystal Castles - Air War

Ah, these trebling, gutted digi-shards - couldn't possibly be mistaken for pop music could they? Well, I guess there's two ways you could say they are.

One just because these, no let's take an example and say this song - Air War - is of the now; contemporaneity one of pop's hallmarks. But not in just some narrow stylistic or trend sense (although that probz applies, choppy electronic music quite popular at the mo'), moreso in how this music pathologises our current techno-cultural condition. It is as if Air War is made up of the sonic bits and bytes of our day; the sound of our text message alerts, touchpad options, voice mail hang ups, laptop battery warnings, the noise an ATM machine makes when it spits your card back out. In one sense I guess this music always then teeters on the brink of being techno-fetishist, in the sense that it aestheticises this condition, it almost earmarks itself for the soundtrack to some IT company's latest cutting-edge commercial (too late).

This is partly why it initially seems an absolute joke that the outfit has a nominal 'singer' in the form of Alice Glass, whose role in the projection of anything resembling the unmediated human voice has long since been forgotten. Instead, Glass stands in as the voice-response, automated text-to-talk fembot that populates our phones and GPS systems, that nondescript femininity (woman always vocalises the machine) but now cut up into a thousand tiny little shreds like nodes in the network.

And yet all this likely off-putting-sounding stuff - vocal and digital snatches cut up and retracked as a song - is nevertheless thoroughly massaged into what is also a pop sound (not just 'concept', like 'being trendy'). Because the interesting thing about this song is really that its bits are far more than just 8. Crystal Castles enlist a fucking terabyte of engineering and data to produce sounds as if they came off a gameboy and kids electronic piano. All the glitch is also given a nice fat, rhythmic bass as bedding. And that's this song most finds its pop mark: over-production in service of simplicity. The only difference this time is that this simplicity is not rendered silk but mutated blip and blop. Because everything still functions in this song, integrates and hooks.

This is not the aesthetics of error, then, as one might initially peg Crystal Castles as making palatable. Instead, what they do allow us to swallow is the fact that no matter how many beeping buttons we push, how many times we get cut off, flipped out, dialled away, processed, connected, reconnected, no matter how much digital shredding our bodies and voices are subjected to/authorise, there is still something working in this techno-totalised culture that is soothing, satisfying, coherent. And Glass is the flesh in the shell.

Or you could just say they're pop becoz their album is not that gr8; stick w/ well-known, catchy singles like this one and Crimewave or Alice Practice.

2 riffs:

Anonymous said...

Stick to Crimewave or Courtship Dating or Black Panther or Vanished or Untrust Us or Good Time or Tell Me What To Swallow or Alice Practice. This album is gold.

Anonymous said...

S'all bout Untrust Us