Celestica by Crystal Castles
OK, before I get into what I want to say, I did not know there was a music video for this! It’s sort of what you would expect a Crystal Castle video to have — people hanging around Gothic architecture, graveyards, spooky ambiguity. I thought of “Celestica” something resembling outside of a physical form, so it’s weird for me to have a tangible thing for “Celestica,” but cool to have an accompanying visual for a wonderful song!
Anyway, the song that I loved most and had what I wanted a lot from Crystal Castles in the self-titled debut was “Alice Practice.” It’s an 8-bit grind-house/noise-punk. It’s Alice Glass screaming in my ear on top of video game white noise. It’s awesome.
My friends liked other songs, like their remix of HEALTH’s “Crimewave,” “Magic Spells” (Ha ha. Any of my friends reading this? Sorry. Inside joke!) or probably “Courtship Dating.” You know, the synth-y stuff. Our tastes lied a little different but we all praised Crystal Castles like the freshest sound around, complaining when people had their remix of “Crimewave” up on MySpace or something, and that’s all they end up knowing from the band.
When my friends and I heard the news of a second album from Crystal Castles coming out, we first tried to imagine what the new songs would sound like. We thought it’d be another collection of 8-bit stuff with Alice Glass showing up being a spooky vocalist or screaming out ears out again. The imagined follow-up from Crystal Castles in our heads was a set of songs quick to burn out as they pulled upon exactly what the blogs ended up simplifying the band into. We had hope still, but the perhaps our expectations were sadly low about how much we would be impressed.
And boom, Crystal Castles released “Celestica” as their first single from the follow-up album.
It was anything but we previously imagined. The sound was hundred times clearer and more crisp than anything before. In came airy wooshes of synthesizers and out went video-game programming. “Celestica” shared a similar family line with dream-pop than, like, whatever 8-bit remix blogs have posted to death. Most importantly, we can actually hear Alice Glass sing. She’s singing, and she sounds so pretty and free.
I returned to “Celestica” last winter and that’s what struck me most. Crystal Castles sounded soothing, an adjective I probably would not have used to describe their music prior. While the squirming video-game synths felt a little claustrophobic, “Celestica” unleashed its electronic beat outward and radiated with strength. Glass’ thin voice carried the gust of synth with even more serene feel.
Certainly, the feeling of serenity of “Celestica” made a great impression and a change of face, but it’s not the only thing holding the single together as a great song. After I let the synths cover me, I then turned to the pounding bass and the house-signature 4/4 beat, churning out crisp and energetic. The drums and thump lies beneath the bed of sparkly synth sounds as a powerful component to keep the track strong on its feet. And it makes a good metronome-like element to keep heads nodding and bodies moving at a natural pace.
“Celestica,” for me, sounds like a wonderful house song working without any sign of fatigue, always sounding fresh as ever (It’s on loop as I write this, and it’s a great loop I can put on for days). Every sound on the song is memorable and put to use efficiently, even the little beeping sound ending the phrase. A bit foreign for the dance floor, but it’s a song that sounds colorful and romantic to soundtrack a moment to let go of any thoughts and insecurities.
A line I always cling on to when I listen to “Celestica” is “do you pray with your eyes closed, naturally?” I don’t know what it is, mostly probably from just the way Alice Glass sings the line. I don’t know what the song is about, but I kind of don’t want to look up the lyrics and find out. I remember feelings about this song more than content, and for Crystal Castles, who has been unfairly labeled as a sound-driven band, being able trigger an unexplainable pleasant feeling through rich sounds was a powerful step forward.
How was your first time listening to the sounds inside Crystal Castles II? Maybe submit a post of your story?