Live Music + Gig Reviews

Crystal Stilts @ Luminiare, London

25 May 2009

“Prismatic Room. You c*nt.”

Wow. Really? Really? He only asked if you had any preference for what you heard next.

Sure, swear at them. Demand from them. Plead for the song that you want. But honestly, was itreally worth that? Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? Do you shout at all your favouritebands with that mouth? If you use those words in that instance, what in the name of the holy goatare you going to cry when you really, *really* *really* want aspecific encore?

Because, and this is coming from a position of actually quite liking the band, there isn’t a vastchasm of difference between Prismatic Room and the 10 or so other songs Crystal Stilts knock out tonight.They’re good. They’re droney. They’re surfy. They’re like someone took a Ronettes song,connected it to a drip of pure ethanol, and then beat it too a groggy pulp with AndyWarhol’s banana. But different? Nah.

Actually, that’s not strictly true. Crystal Stilts do display two hugely diverse types of songthis evening. There’s the songs as described above, with Brad Hargett’s ominous baritonereverbing off the sides of the kind of inescapable gloom the brothers Reid made a whole genrefrom, and then there are the songs where you can’t hear him.

They aren’t as good. Without the ethereal vocals haunting around, the drone quickly becomes likea, well, drone. A shapeless fug that you can’t find your way through. Leaving you with justgloom, and a man sporting the kind of hairdo favoured only by Art Garfunkel and microphone booms,mouthing into the night.

Eventually it all gets sorted and things click. Bass, synth, jangling guitar, girl-band drummingand some vocals you can actually discern all present, correct and helping to produce a druggywave of sound that’s hypnotic. A little bit The Doors, a little bit Velvet Underground and a littlebit the kind of arty noise that makes you feel like a nihilistic ’70s beatnik.

The encore in particular nails it. The Sinking and, yes my profane friend, Prismatic Room, areparticularly fine distillations of all the little bits of history that Crystal Stilts lovinglyborrow.

Okay, it’s not flawless and it’s not exactly revolutionary. And frankly, the inter-song bantercould do with tweaking to be less chatty, and more inline with the sombre mood prevalent here.But amongst all that, amongst the swearing, something in here sparkles enough to suggest CrystalStilts are worth watching.

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