Capital Children’s Choir Does a Bizarrely Good Cover of Crystal Castles’ ‘Untrust Us’

I have never been an ardent fan of their entire musical oeuvre, but for some some unconscious reason, have always held a strong love for Crystal Castles’ repetitious and throbbing “Untrust Us.” For me, there’s something eerie and exciting about it, oddly conjuring up very specific images in my mind, like a lavish candle-lit lavender bedroom where an Isabella Rossellini a la Blue Velvet type maniacally throws herself around on the carpet. Why? I have absolutely no idea.

However, what I’ve never imagined is a children’s choir singing the song—not only because that would mean the song would be sans synths, but because the only line in the song is essentially just "cocaine is not good for you" repeated ad nauseum in Spanish. However, recorded at Abbey Road, the Capital Child’s Choir have brought to life their own recreation of “Untrust Us” using only their voices and hands.

Take a look below, it’s pretty amazing.

What Crystal Castles’ ‘III’ Sounds Like, Track By Track

Am I the only one who feels like music reviewers never give it to you straight? Probably something to do with the abstraction essential to the art form. In hopes of advancing this branch of criticism, here’s the most literal description possible of each song on Crystal Castles’ third self-titled album, out this month.

“Plague”: A remix of that alarm going off throughout the last act of Alien.

“Kerosene”: Teletubbies played backwards.

“Wrath of God”: A teen Goth being baptized in olive oil for some reason.

“Affection”: Future hip-hop sample.

“Pale Flesh”: Cave-dwelling fish that communicate in electrical impulses.

“Sad Eyes”: Borderline ’80s disco.

“Insulin”: Anything but recorded music.

“Transgender”: Roll call at Illuminati meeting.

“Violent Youth”: A steady stream of illegible infographics.

“Telepath”: This band called, um, Crystal Castles. Heard of them?

“Mercenary”: Cool older kid blowing pot smoke rings.

“Child I Will Hurt You”: What robots listen to while getting a massage.  

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BlackBook Tracks #15: It Gets Crisp

Hello, how are you today? Good? Good. Here are the vibes for this week. Insert that quote from The Great Gatsby about fall here.

Grizzly Bear – “Yet Again”

In the new video for “Yet Again,” dreams turn into a discordant nightmare for a young figure skater. It’s a good match for this highlight from recently-released Shields.

Efterklang – “The Ghost”

With the recent release of Piramida, Danish band Efterklang has crafted one of the most nuanced, accomplished records of the year. “The Ghost” is a quietly majestic highlight.

Frightened Rabbit – “State Hospital”

Good news if you want to feel sad, because there’s new music from Frightened Rabbit! The mournful Scotsmen have just put out a new EP, also entitled State Hospital, which should prove sufficient for those grumpycat.jpg days.

Citizens! – “True Romance”

London’s Citizens! are gearing up for the stateside release of their debut LP Here We Are, and they’re paving the way with this sexy new video for “True Romance.” If you can pay attention to anything besides the pretty people making out, there’s a tight, magnetic pop song in there, too.

Total War – “xxx HATE xxx” (Is Tropical remix)

This Parisian duo’s impeccably titled letter of self loathing was already an excellent bite of lo-fi synth-pop. Then, pals Is Tropical showed up to make it more danceable. It’s a win-win situation, even when you think you’re a loser.

Ice Choir – “Teletrips”

Kurt Feldman of the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart takes the sounds of the ’80s and propels them into the present, with the kind of semi-detached delivery that a name like Ice Choir implies. Soft as snow, but warm inside.

HEALTH – “USA Boys”

Sensual, dangerous.

Crystal Castles – “Wrath Of God”

Two years ago, I went to a Crystal Castles show and then promptly hit a brick wall with my car. If that’s not a sign of a powerhouse act, then I don’t know what is. (Or I could just be a terrible driver.) Anyways, the Canadian duo’s set to release its third album later this fall, and this first single shows a surprisingly tranquil angle of their paranoiac electronics.

Azealia Banks – “Luxury”

It seems like there’s a new Azealia Banks video dropping every other week, but why not? Tumblr needs new gifs and it keeps her momentum going while we wait for her official album. “Luxury,” from the Fantasea mixtape, shows a subtler side of Ms. Banks.

Crystal Castles’ ‘Wrath Of God’ Sounds Straight out the ‘Exorcist’ Soundtrack

Pure Moods is the New Age music compilation from the ‘90s responsible for the greatest television commercial of all time, which includes, among other things, a New Age version of The X-Files theme song. Any reference to it may sound like a moment of mockery, but this new Crystal Castles track, especially the middle third, does have a creepy, trance-inducing vibe in the same way some of the tracks on said compilation do (the beginning kind of has a “Tubular Bells”-ish feel, but with more synth).

Crystal Castles’ new album, III, will be released November 5, featuring tracks they’ve referred to as “bleak.” “Wrath of God,” which has made its way into the group’s live sets, certainly fits the description, with a ‘70s demon-possession-movie choir effect creeping in the background. Have a listen below.

Watch Video for, Listen to HEALTH Remix of Crystal Castles’ ‘Suffocation’

Many days have passed since Crystal Castles were simply a group of upstart Canadian rave punx. Nowadays they’re in the music/fashion biz for real, which is why their new video for "Suffocation," off 2010’s II, is as glammy as it is. Produced in collaboration with Vs. Magazine and directed by Ethan Kath, the band’s producer, it has lead singer Alice Glass moping around an abandoned NYC mansion wearing a number of unrealistic outfits while that familiar CC buzz scores the ennui. You can watch it at the Vs. Magazine website or at Vimeo, because apparently one has to be a Vimeo Plus member to embed it in text, which, like, no way. 

Accordingly, you can listen to a remix of the same song by HEALTH, via Pitchfork. It is not entirely essential, but you can decide for yourself. The ‘fork also reports that Crystal Castles are currently recording their third album in Warsaw, and that it’s supposed to be out this summer. Let’s hope they don’t continue in the model of their first two albums and call this one III, unless they’re prepared to get freaky with a bunch of symbols. There’s precedent for these things!

Benicassim Fest Adds Crystal Castles, Noel Gallagher, More

Don’t want to sweat the middle of the California desert surrounded by trendy young people experimenting with drugs and neon body paint in order to see your favorite bands all in one place? Luckily for you, there are plenty of alternatives, among them the Festival Internacional de Benicassim, where you can sweat on a beach in Spain while surrounded by trendy young people experimenting with drugs and neon body paint in order to see your favorite bands all in one place.

Mancunian icons The Stone Roses,  Florence and the Machine and The Vaccines were already named as top-billing acts for the festival, which will take place July 12th – 15th in the festival’s namesake Valencian beach town, late last year. Added acts this week include Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Katy B, Miles Kane, New Order, Crystal Castles, The Horrors, Bombay Bicycle Club and Example. More additions will follow next week. 

The Strange Mystique of Crystal Castles

A sheet of paper is taped to the box office window at The Fillmore, a concert hall not far from Union Square in Manhattan. Written in black marker, the note reads, “The Crystal Castles show is completely, absolutely sold-out.”

Inside, hundreds of androgynous fans with stringy hair and beer-stained T-shirts stand shoulder-toemaciated-shoulder. The band, comprised of singer Alice Glass and producer Ethan Kath, takes the stage an hour late. Glass’ severe black bob and heavy eye makeup, mixed with the venue’s oppressive strobe lights, obscure much of her face. The whites of her eyes glow bright yellow as the 22-year-old punk screams and sings over Kath’s demonic synth arrangements. She extends her sinewy arms and dives into the throngs, her body so possessed by the melodic séance that it seems she’s convulsing.

Earlier that day, an entirely different Glass opens the door to her suite at Midtown’s Hudson Hotel. Quiet and aloof, she lacks the charisma that makes her so hypnotic in concert. In real life, her feral intensity is replaced by a pair of matching cat masks that she and Kath refuse to take off. Since the release of their eponymous debut album two years ago, the duo has created, nurtured and perhaps exaggerated these cantankerous and willfully enigmatic personae. From their silly disguises to their standoffish, above-it-all relationship to the media, Glass and Kath desperately want people to know they don’t give a fuck.

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Take Kath’s thoughts on the evolution of his band: “We were not trying to evolve. Crystal Castles was born out of the environment,” he says. “It’s a natural evolution, not a concept. It’s about following your genetic code. It’s about things breaking down. It’s about maggots forming from rotting meat.” Perhaps, then, they might comment on how the success of their first album—and the subsequent media attention they received—has colored Glass’ eagerness to bare her soul lyrically? “Her lyrics have always been personal,” says Kath, answering for her. “Nothing has changed.” Okay, but surely being in a white-hot band, one whose debut clocked in at 39 on NME’s list of the “Top 50 Greatest Albums of the Decade,” changes things? “Ask the Cure,” Glass replies.

Away from the bright lights, Kath is the scabrous yin to Glass’ restrained yang. Allegedly, they met six years ago in their hometown of Toronto while reading to the blind, part of a high school community service requirement (although this may be a fabrication—Kath, 28, should have been well out of high school by the summer of 2004). Glass, then 15, was part of a noise-punk band called Fetus Fatale. After seeing her perform, Kath sent Glass a series of 60 instrumental songs, from which she added lyrics to five. A sixth track, originally a studio outtake never intended for release, became the band’s first single, “Alice Practice.” (Kath says that fans always botch the lyrics to this one: “In ‘Alice Practice,’ Madame sings, ‘the dregs in us spent the Earth down,’ but people seem to think it’s, ‘you shrug it off except that you don’t.’”) The album, like a roiling pot of bile, bubbled with an acidic, pungent collection of tracks that were sharply written, gloriously unprocessed and surprisingly sincere. Even if they sorely lacked social decorum, Crystal Castles were impossible to dismiss.

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On their second offering, the recently released Crystal Castles—yes, it’s also self-titled—Glass and Kath embrace a softer pop sound, meandering pleasantly away from the sonic concrete found on “Doe Deer,” by far the album’s most jarring song. Journey to the End of the Night, a misanthropic, semi-autobiographical novel written in the 1930s by French author Louis-Ferdinand Céline, inspired Glass to write these new songs. But to drive home her lack of patience for questions about influences, she adds that she is also quite taken with “birds fucking.” Similarly, Kath found inspiration in “issues of Guns Magazine from the ’80s.” Adding to its amalgam of disparate sounds, the album was recorded in an Icelandic church, a cabin in Ontario and a garage in Detroit. “Both of us gave up our apartments; therefore, after tours, we had nowhere to go home to,” Kath says. “We would stay in the city of the last show of the tour. We recorded the album in the random places we ended up.”

At each stop along the way, from Rohstofflager in Zurich to Austin’s La Zona Rosa, Crystal Castles fans came in droves to watch their favorite experimental rockers. The band has been known to elicit anarchic behavior from its feverish crowds, proved last year at Los Angeles’ Hard music festival (where Glass suffered a concussion after being kicked in the head) and in 2008 at a festival in Brighton, England (where they narrowly avoided arrest for sparking a near-riot). But when asked about the manic zeal with which the band has been received, Kath says simply, “People have been very nice to us, but I don’t think we deserve it.” False modesty is just another way of lying.

Photography by Marley Kate.

Kylie Minogue on the Cover of BlackBook

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In her second-ever North American cover appearance, international pop superstar Kylie Minogue turns up the heat for our June/July Smart Issue wearing the season’s most scorching swimwear. Inside, Bill Murray tries his hand at auto-asphyxiation, Inception‘s Cillian Murphy and Ken Watanabe do battle, filmmaker Sarah Polley cozies up to a latex glove-wearing, life-size lamb, Crystal Castles get bestial, Luke Wilson loses his cool, Denis Leary burns Bush, MNDR takes us shopping, and photographer Tim Hetherington brings us into Afghanistan’s deadly Korengal Valley. Plus, Vice co-founder Gavin McGinnes stops by to art direct “Beach Boners,” a fashion story inspired by his new style book. There’s also an in-depth look at The Killer Inside Me‘s tortured adaptation history, a male model, half-naked, on a beach, and some tips for how best to weather the warmer climes. You might call this issue kind of genius. Also, don’t forget to check out our full cover gallery. Next week, stay tuned for the full issue rollout right here.