Tuesday, 25 June 2013


Finally we're here. I'm writing about Crystal's new EP, Get It. This vivacious Japanese electronic music foursome are the latest addition to Paris label Sound Pellegrino, headed as you may or may not know by DJ Orgasmic and Teki Latex, the latter featuring in the first song on Crystal's EP, 'Get It?!', and I wrote about DJ Orgasmic the other day. They're active as opposed to passive label owners.

Of course, if you read YES/NO often you'll know that I have written about Crystal (or is it CRYSTAL?) before - a while ago they recorded a video-game-esque version of a traditional song called 'Haru no Umi' ('The Sea in Spring'), a song that's popular at New Year in Japan. On the other hand, in the UK we have Slade, I suppose. Anyway, it was a really cool song and I was excited to hear more.

Since then they have joined Teki Latex and co. at Sound Pellegrino, and this EP - their first release on the label - proves them to be capable of a variegated and vibrant sound, sometimes like this, sometimes like that, but always at the very root of it heralding a unique vibe; Teki should be happy to have them aboard.

And judging from the apparent fun he had making the video for and appearing on the first song on the EP 'Get It?!' he is happy indeed. The video itself is like a bizarre videogame, where Teki's disembodied head acts as the main character, sucking up various foodstuffs in bonus levels and trying to woo a robotic Japanese lady... it's directed by Shinya Seto, from Crystal and filmed by Daisuke Miyoshi. Listen.

The song combines retro sensibilities in percussion and synth sounds with a feeling of appreciation for the catchy melodies and experimental synthetic sounds of early videogames, too. One really nice detail is the 90s-type vocal sample of "G-g-g-get it!" - gives it a back-in-the-day vibe. Teki's contribution comes in the form of sung metallic vocals, as well as strange digitised deep-voiced spoken-word stuff - this comes between zany breaks of candy-popping synth. All in all, it's like a galactic arcade-turned-disco.

Bass-ridden 'Telephonic' is next, named seemingly because of the frequent sounds of a telephone ringing in the song - the samples have been twisted around and played with, sometimes sounding like a bitcrushed till opening, other times sounding like drops of sunlight or electricity falling on the ground; robotic voices creep in and out of the soundscape. Swooping rhythmic synth chords provide a break between the dancing snares and zipping hi-hats, giving an expansive nocturnal atmosphere to it all. Listening to this one is like getting an eardrum massage.

'Construction' actually sounds like construction. Albeit intergalactic, interstellar construction - but construction all the same. It's an alien building site, populated by robots. Everything works in rhythm: bouncy explosive kicks, a thin fizz, synths like laser drills, tight snares battling for space, electric shock hammer-blows - it's this energetic mélange of laser sounds and synthetic percussion. "Wait, those robots aren't building a spaceship - they're DANCING!" It's like that.

A contrast to the final track 'Crystal Forest'. Using the various sounds of the song, they create the soundscape of a forest - hissing hi-hats and trilling snares become unseen noisy insects, synth percussion is the call of frogs and birds. But then the melody begins to play and the size of the forest becomes apparent: it's huge. The drop is beautiful, really chilled - the melody, played by what sounds like altered steel pans, has a Japanese sound to it, all backed up by arboreal xylophone sounds and sweeping synth. Using dynamic, the song moves from these synth-filled sections to ones dominated by minimalist murky and bristling percussion (the two sides of a forest: stunning and mysterious) - all set to a dubstep rhythm. It's a summery number at the same time as it's evocative of exactly what the title says: a forest, done in Crystal style. The beat is beautiful pendulous, swinging slowly in time across the chilled sweep of the synth.

Lovely stuff. As you can tell, I really like it. They add quirks and an imaginative atmosphere to the occasionally unquirky and unimaginative sector of house music - refreshing. Anyway, you can listen along with the preview of the Get It EP, but you should probably just get it, get it? You can get it on iTunes (but I can't find it) or you can get it on vinyl along with some 3D glasses from Sound Pellegrino.

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