Review: Crystal Palace – Spirit Quest

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(Cassette, Rotifer Cassettes, 2012)

Crystal Palace’s “Spirit Quest” is one of the most intensely psychedelic, unrelentlingly experimental releases of 2012, and I don’t mean that only in the hazy-murky-limited-cassette-drone sense, but in the sense of all albums from the year 2012. Released by the Floridian weirdo post-musick label Rotifer (who are responsible for some re-releases of Greek-American New Age maverick Iasos), it provides 60 minutes of heavy, interlocking and multilayered tapestries of synthesized patterns, found sounds, chopped’n’screwed electronica much in the vein of ultra-psych electronix San Francisco project Hans Grüsel’s Kränkenkabinet (except not wearing any of the crazy costumes the dudes from Hans Grusel were wearing). But yeah, the general vibe is much the same.

Starting harshly with some heavily delayed and reverbed fragmented fragments of radio broadcasts or some mangled songs, the tape transforms into a rollercoaster of often abrasive, always abstract synthesizer conversations and wildest soloes interspersed with warped cut’n’paste collage psychosis. Even multiple repeated listenings can’t make me see the record as a whole, it’s so heavily multi-leveled, so fractured and weird to the highestest level that it should actually be listened to in parts, with the listener taking breaks to save himself from overloading the synapses and frying their brain. “Crystal Palace” is a relentless, unforgiving record that takes no prisoners. It’s hard to take it all sober, it’s even harder to take it all on drugs. In fact, one shouldn’t be on drugs when listening to this. Lo-fi, folky guitar improvisations jump without any warning into Stockhausen-style musique concrete and mercilessly cut-up tape sound collages, occasionally offering a glimpse of New Age/prog electronic beauty and tranquility through the heavy tapestry of noise and distortion.

“Spirit Quest” is like a few years’ worth of ideas crammed into one 60 minute cassette. What we get is a hyperactive, overbearing album so pregnant with sound it’s like a musical equivalent of a neutron star: just like a small piece of a neutron star weighs millions and millions of tons, one minute excerpt from “Spirit Quest” sounds like a 30-minute excerpt from any other album. Intense as FUCK. Only for the seasoned, experienced music consumers.

“Fight the ocean and you will drown!”

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