UK’S CRYSTAL FIGHTERS BRING ETHNO-TRANCE CARAVAN TO NORTH AMERICA

June 30, 2012 2:00 PM

The txalaparta, an ancient Basque instrument, is traditionally played through the use of partnership. Two percussionists alternate striking thick rods on a set of pitched wooden boards, and the combined work of the two creatives a flurry of rhythm. Crystal Fighters embodies this spirit of teamwork, not just with their live txalaparta playing, but also in every aspect of their irresistible, high-energy dance rock. The Spanish-English group is already notorious for their live show, wowing crowds at Austin's SXSW and Montreaux Jazz Festival in Sweden. Any one that's seen them can attest - their set is a vibrant spectacle of long hair, big drums, and combined voices, equal parts trance and Williamsburg indie.

From their two-member inauguration in 2007, Sebastien Pringle and Gilbert Vierich built Crystal Fighters up to a six-member ensemble. The band takes their name and palette of stylistic cues from an old manuscript that vocalist Laure Stockley's grandfather left behind. This half-done Basque sci-fi opera has infused their innovative instrumental choices and neo-psychedelia aesthetic. Cultural references permeate their music, which conveys big themes about life, death and the universe itself.

Traditional ethnic flavors ebb and flow throughout their tracks: "Plage" jingles with Mediterranean classical guitar while heavy techno drums and synths bump on "Xtatic Truth”. Sometimes the driving txalaparta is so fitting that it's hardly noticeable, a seamless revival of old world craft.

In addition to their musical mélange, Crystal Fighters are a truly visual group. Their headbands and hippy tunics meet wild fabric assemblages as seen in their string of beautiful music videos. The treatment for “Champion Sound” shows a troupe of fashionable revelers recruit a busker, clad in French Revolution garb. In “Follow”, a frilly thrift-store scarecrow leads an apache girl through a glowing parallel universe. These visual counterparts all end with some mixture of music, dancing, and celebration. It just goes to show, Crystal Fighters truly believe in the wholesale of their art. The listener is also the viewer and invitee to a pretty splendid party.

The band will be touring through North America starting May 21st. Check out their tour dates, music, videos, and more at crystalfighters.com. Their album, Star of Love is out now on Zirkulo via Atlantic Records.

by Aaron Lindenberg


"Follow" video

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