Crystal Castles - Amnesty (I)
The brainchild of Canadian producer Ethan Kath returns with his fourth album to build on the successes of 2012’s (III); his first since the departure of original vocalist Alice Glass. Glass left the duo in 2014 citing creative and personal differences with Kath, there were fears that this would be the end of Crystal Castles losing Glass’s distinctive blend of shouting and hushed tones that was central to the band’s earlier releases. With new recruit Edith Frances, Amnesty (I) lands after a two year re-group. While different, it is less the end of Crystal Castles and more of a software upgrade.
The marked difference between Amnesty (I) and previous releases is the vocal work of new girl Frances. After initial trepidation, she's been welcomed with open arms by the Crystal Castles fan base and brings a new dimension to Kath’s work. Still present is the 8-bit glitch techno work of the earlier albums but, instead of sitting on top of the music, Frances’ vocal work blends into overall soundscape with the vocals becoming another instrument in their own right. Highlights include the brutal synth work of 'Fleece' which serves as Frances first introduction proper to the album, 'Sadist' which takes the light glistening glitch introduction and attacks it a quasi-dubstep wooziness and turns white noise into an instrument, and 'Chloroform' which serves as the best showcase of what Frances brings to the table integrating with the track managing to come across like an electronic Slowdive
Each track is a short sharp burst of digital cacophony, and with the album clocking in at a little over half an hour, never threatens to overstay its welcome. At times challenging for the headphone wearer, Aphex Twin-lite with the Industrial noise mixed with the ethereal such as the pure noise of 'Teach Her How to Hunt', Amnesty (I) is a pleasing reboot and shows promise that Crystal Castles are not out for the count just yet.