Crystal Stilts - Alight of Night
A lot of questions get asked in music journalism nowadays; often revolving around the phases what, who and where. ‘What is their sound?’, ‘What genre do they fit into?’, ‘Who are they?’, ‘Who do they sound like?’, ‘Where are they from?’ and ‘How does where they are from relate to their sound?’ are the questions asked over and over again in the music industry. Perhaps, in our consumerist centred society, focused on the big selling point of new and established artists we often forget maybe one of the most important questions in music, and indeed art, why... For me, Crystal Stilts are a band focused on the ‘why’ of their sound; anyone who has read a review of ‘Alight of Night’ will be familiar with the Velvet Underground comparisons. However, in this case it seems justified, after all the Velvet Underground were a band with an evocative and inspirational sound, an area I feel is covered by Crystal Stilts. Famously, Brian Eno said; “roughly a hundred people bought the first Velvet Underground LP, but of those one hundred, all of them went on to form bands”. As such, Crystal Stilts are also a band who are very much focused on creating a sound that inspires the imagination, rather than achieves emotion catharsis... As a musician myself, I am often left wondering what inspired a band to go in their particular musical direction, and at times I even come across a band who inspire me to play my instrument. Crystal Stilts definitely fall into that category, I love the intangible sense of creativity attached to their music. If Phil Spector created a lavish, ten-storey wall of sound, then Crystal Stilts have an unsteady 6-foot tall brick wall of sound. It’s not quite as grand, but it does give an impression of ambition and ingenuity... Yes, their music does sound pretty indistinguishable after a while and yes, they are a band of few surprises and repetitive ideas; but all of that doesn’t seem to matter after a while. The songs aren’t supposed to be a karaoke, they’re supposed to leave you with a feeling that you witnessing, or rather hearing musical originality at its best. They occupy a narrow ground hoarded by some of music’s best; the Velvet Underground, Joy Division, Sonic Youth. I’m not implying that Crystal Stilts are as revolutionary as these bands, but they are as interesting and provide the listener with a sense of appreciation, not found nearly enough in modern music.