Crystal Stilts: In love with oblivion (2011)

Si en alguna ocasión es significativo conocer el origen de una banda, en este caso, saber que Crystal Stilts son neoyorquinos es más que relevante, porque nunca el sonido de una determinada zona describe con mayor verosimilitud el sonido de ésta. Desde el comienzo típicamente Nugget de Sycamore tree nos damos cuentas de la senda que va a tomar este segundo álbum de los neoyorquinos. Sus trazos sombríos, su crudeza sonora, su voz típicamente joydivisiana, el sonido de sus guitarras… nunca ha sido más claro relacionar a una determinada banda con su lugar de origen.
Pero más allá de estas consideraciones, lo interesante de este In love with oblivion (2011) es su música. Y es aquí cuando Crystal Stilts nos toman por la mano, porque en el disco se resumen muchas de las características e influencias del sonido de Nueva York: Garaje (Sycamore tree, Half a moon, Invisible city, Blood barons), Psicodelia (Alien rivers, Precarious stair, Shake the shackles); Rock a la manera de hacer de NY, léase Velvet Underground o Television (Through the floor, Flying into the sun);  o Post-Punk (Silver sun). Quizás se les fuera un poco la mano a la hora de mimetizarse con la Velvet en un tema como Prometheus at large, pero podemos pasar por alto este pequeño detalle. En cualquier caso, In love with oblivion es un gran disco que nos permite ponernos en contacto de nuevo con una serie de tendencias que conviene no dejar nunca demasiado de lado, si tenemos en cuenta la importancia que han tenido para la música popular del último siglo.

Crystal Stilts – In love with oblivion (2011)

“The murkiness continues to recede on the band’s sophomore effort, In Love With Oblivion, but the menace mostly persists– only, here it feels less introverted and more vivacious, largely due to Hargett’s improvements as a lyricist. Save for the macho bellowing that stains “Blood Barons”, he’s a smarter, more descriptive presence here, whether he’s bemoaning losing a winter’s love to the “Silver Sun” or surrealistically describing a disappearing act on “Through the Floor”. He can be funny, too– like on “Invisible City”, when he sings about crawling into a sarcophagus with a girl before repeating, like a too-clever suspect in the interrogation room, “We know what happened at death/ But I don’t have to say why.” This is all, of course, only when you can understand him– reverb still abounds, and whether this is a feeling triggered by lack of comprehension or listener fatigue in 2011, it comes off as a hampering effect.
The cavernous echo that places distance between Hargett and everything else seems especially out of place when taking into consideration how damn good the rest of the band sounds. Joining up with David Feck, frontman of indie pop vets Comet Gain, for last year’s self-titled LP as supergroup Cinema Red and Blue, clearly served them well, as the singular chugging force that ran throughout Alight of Night is replaced here by tight intra-band cohesion and playfulness. You can practically hear the tightly coiled guitar line and insistent rhythm in “Invisible City” snap against each other, while all the elements contained in “Half a Moon” sway in unison without congealing into a grossly blaring whole. Also, for a band that might never escape the “lo-fi” tag, this is a surprisingly ornate and atmospheric record. The jarring effect of the lovely, reedy woodwind melody that emerges from within “Flying into the Sun” is offset by barely there harpsichord dithering that creates an enticing depth of sound, while the elegiac horn that briefly moans in the middle of the unfortunately titled “Alien Rivers” adds an affecting touch to the otherwise turgid, seven-minute-plus dud. Songs open with creaking bug noises, car crashes, shivering tonal squelches– they’re thinking not just about the song but also how to sing it, in a sense, and the commitment shows.
What about that voice? Well, as a vocalist, Hargett’s definitely made some positive strides. And yet, you wish he’d work up the confidence here to embrace his surprisingly affecting upper register, which was showcased best on the EP’s highlight “Converging in the Quiet”. When that song made it over to Alight of Night, it was under a different title (“Departure”), and Hargett had dipped into a flatlined, momentum-killing vocal black hole. The fact that this is a pick-and-choose kind of band after only a handful of releases is telling, though: Like their contemporaries and the bands of the past that they lovingly borrow from, Crystal Stilts are a band meant more to be cultishly admired than embraced as “big ticket” or any of that nonsense. If, like me, you’re one of the admirers, then there’s plenty to like here. If not, well, give it a shot anyway– who knows, you might find something you like” (

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  1. Hola Damiá!!
    La verdad es que a mí al principio no me llegó mucho, pero tras la segunda escucha, la verdad es que el disco es de lo más ameno, y mezclan todos esos estilos, como decía en el post. Se les va la mano un poco con la última (que es un calco del ambiente sonoro de la Velvet de los dos primeros álbumes), pero están muy bien, de cualquier manera. Me imaginaba que te gustarían. ¿A ti te va mucho el tema garajero, no?
    Saludos – Jorge

    Me gusta


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