Album Review Crystalline Stricture
On July 13, Belfast based independent label TONN RECORDINGS published the new outstanding album ‘Technique’ by also Belfast’s own Crystalline Stricture, and here is my story about it all. You’ll read an article which was supposed to be a review on the album but as the thread unwinds I found it was inevitable not to mention all these things I write in here. First, it was my friend Fab Lusso who interviewed the owner of TONN, Mary McIntyre back in November 2017 and in there I found this pretty interesting quotation regarding the relationship between the label and Crystalline Stricture; “The starting point of working with Crystalline Stricture was very unexpected. Being based in the same city, I’d actually known Alan for some time. One day after starting the label, we ran into each other and got talking about music. I knew Alan had an interest in electronic and so it came up in conversation that I’d started TONN. He was a quite taken aback, as people know of me as a visual artist, so no-one ever expected me to start a record label. A little while after that Alan passed on some of his own music to me and asked if I would give him my opinion of it. I was a bit apprehensive, it’s always tricky when someone asks you listen to their music, the thought goes through your head – you wonder what you can I say if you find that you don’t like it. But I was curious to hear what he was producing. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when I listened to it I got quite a shock. I thought – if I came across this music I’d be trying to find out where I could buy it. I knew the minute I heard it that it had something. I remember as I stood listening to it for the first time, thinking – I didn’t expect that! So I was able to tell him that I thought what he was producing was excellent and perfect for TONN.”
Some things in life need their time to fall into place and with the appropriate luck required. So far the collaboration between artist-label already counts 7 records of edgy and groundbreaking analog electronic music in the streams and styles of coldwave/ synthwave music with the expected minimalwave approach occasionally and when needed in the stormy Crystalline Stricture‘s artistic cosmos. I asked Mary McIntyre to give me some info about the new album and while chatting with her she gave me this pretty interesting hint which seemingly addresses to us all, and more; “In ‘Technique’ there are some specific threads running through the album tracks, not least because each track title begins with the letter ‘T’ because so many of the ideas that this album were formed from, coincidentally came from ideas of ‘trauma’, ‘toil’ etc. Whereas the ‘Syndrome’ album related to the human condition, ‘Technique’ looks more at how people are instrumentalized by societal structures, through capitalist practices, economies, workforces, etc. You could say that it looks at the way that the individual experiences these things, experiences the effect of being used in this way. So the ideas behind the music are actually quite brutal. The track, ‘Traum’ for example, is the narrative of drowning. Not the first time that a Crystalline Stricture track has focused on that type of subject matter, his ‘Undigital’ EP was based on the idea a car crash, made public through social media, Crystalline Stricture‘s music comes from a coldwave sensibility, but it also ideologically, deals with cold realities”, she said. The whole social-political outlook took me straight back to the cold stare in the early days of Philippe Fichot‘s Die Form releases. And if we speak about that edgy approach in electronic music and without relating Crystalline Stricture with Die Form at all, then there is a veiled or unveiled if you like connection between them both; to rearrange and alternate the boost of the already established norms in the out-of-the-box electronic music.
‘Technique’ LP comprises of 12 tracks featuring remixes by French vocal and synth performer Futuristic Diva MADMOIZEL, also London-based analog synth venture This Is The Bridge, and vocals by French minimalwave outfit Me and a Box, Mary McIntyre, and Crystalline Stricture. The whole album is an adventurous collage of the most avant-garde sounds and techniques as they are mounted to the songs and performed by that brilliant team. Traum Undercurrent is track no.6 with an official video filmed by Glenn Kinning on location at the North Coast of Ireland. Very beautiful music, very beautiful landscape, let’s go!
Here also you may listen to the stunning work of MADMOIZEL who offered another view on Crystalline Stricture‘s coldwave. All is more strict here, all is more French in here as the lady added her own darker-a-bit soul and crafts in Traum Huntress!
‘Traum’, comes as the minimal electro sonic tunnel off the album with a fancy melody lane on the keyboards, a pretty groovy and a sensual track for after 3 AM on the dancefloor!
Another hint Mary McIntyre gave me was this vanguard and utterly creative way Cristalline Stricture is working, she said “In terms of Crystalline Stricture musically, he uses a very wide variety of analogue synthesizers and also developed his own equipment, like the TONN GOSE noise generator that he created for TONN. In developing his music, he has a way of working that will originate one specific track, that then will be reworked to form a series of new tracks, which can be interlinked, on the ‘Scorch’ EP for example, and is also the case of ‘Technique’ album.” Check this pretty nice little machine and also read some details in the following video!
Synthesized music always needed and shall always need these clever crazies without whom this music probably wouldn’t reach its edges and beyond. ‘Technique’ is not a collection of fuzzes and circuits but a complete album in all and according to my tastes absolutely among my best picks of the year already, here it is!!!
Last, I must give you the artist’s own words on the project Crystalline Stricture:
COLD ELECTRONIC MUSIC
THIS ATTEMPT TO CREATE INTERESTING SYNTHESIZER ARRANGEMENTS
COLLABORATION AT TIMES WITH OTHERS
TILTED TOWARDS COLDWAVE AND THE DISTOPIAN ELECTRONICA OF THE LATE 1970’S AND EARLY 80’S
BASED IN BELFAST, N.IRELAND
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Written by Loud Cities Mike