Experimental electro was never a genre that was intended to go mainstream, so it’s no surprise that Crystal Castles are not the most media- friendly band. That hasn’t stopped Ethan Kath and Alice Glass from drawing an huge fan base; when they visited Japan back in 2008, despite jitters from their record company, the band found they needed no media introduction.
“The label in Japan wanted to bring us out to do three days of press to introduce ourselves to the country. We wanted to play a show while we were there, but they felt we weren’t ready. They reluctantly let us do one show, and it immediately sold out. They were shocked,” Kath told Toronto-based Now Magazine.
This time ticket sales for the band, who hail from Toronto, ought to be a breeze. Their latest single, “Not in Love” (featuring The Cure’s Robert Smith), reached the sixth spot on the iTunes U.K. chart and No. 75 on iTunes Japan last month. The track is from their second album, simply titled “Crystal Castles” (just like their first album) and is one of the softer numbers on a work that uneasily occupies territory between New Order-esque retro-synth pop and grinding aggressive noise core. Kath has a predilection for torturing innocent electronic devices and the tracks on which he lets his sadistic side out are arguably the most exciting on the album; in “Birds,” for instance, a brittle tune threatens to split apart into shards under the stress of laser gun pulses of sound. Other tracks, such as “Celestial,” brings Kath’s rabid behavior and Glass’ punk attitude under control and the band shows a swirlier sugary side. On stage, they put on a show that is not to be tamed: Kath standing off to one side perched over his instrument in a sullen posture of pent-up aggression, while Glass’ body gets caught up in the grimy electronic rush, inciting the crowd to do the same.
Crystal Castles play Shinsaibashi Club Quattro in Osaka on Jan. 17; Ebisu Liquidroom in Tokyo on Jan. 18. Tickets for both shows cost ¥5,000. For more information, visit www.crystalcastles.com.