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Show Review

We first got to know the festive, globe-trekking outfit, Crystal Fighters a few years back, when the band visited us at an absurd prop house in Williamsburg Brooklyn for a colorful session of songs from their last album, Cave Rave. It was an absolutely joyous experience and an inspiring set of songs from a band we were absolutely thrilled to have the chance to work with.

Sadly, tragedy would strike the band in 2014 when their brilliant and charismatic drummer, Andrea Marongiu, would pass away unexpectedly due to heart failure. A lot of bands would have crumbled then and there, choosing not to go on, and in fact, Sebastian, Gilbert, and Graham discussed calling it quits. But they decided to honor Marongiu's memory instead, sticking together and releasing a brilliant new album, Everything Is My Family last year.

In town for a round of shows in Brooklyn, the trio (plus a percussionist and additional vocalist) came by the Baeble space, giving our crew three cuts from the new album to chew on in the process. Stripped of some of the production flourishes that power their typical live show, this acoustic session, though lighter than their live experience, still retains all of the positive and easygoing vibes Crystal Fighters are rightly known for.

The band also told us about the delicate balance they strike to make. Combining sonic elements from a variety of different cultures, the band know they open themselves up to critique of appropriation. But they're also hyper aware of where their influences come from...they have lived with and visited (and recorded) many of the indigenous people that have inspired them. "I think it's so important to make people aware of these traditions and these sounds and these styles," Sebastian told us. "We give as much respect as we can and try not to offend anyone as we do."

Indeed they do. Spin the globe yourself in our newest NEXT session from Crystal Fighters.

Transcript

Sebastian: Check, one, two, one, two.
Graham: One, one.
Sebastian: Yes, one, two.
Graham: Bumble clap.
Sebastian: We are some of Crystal Fighters.
I am Sebastian.
Graham: I am Graham.
Do you ever get tired of feeling alone?
Sebastian: We love New York.
He loves it so much that he even lives here.
Graham: I live here.
It's nice to come home and play.
Yeah, for sure.
Represent.
I woke up this morning, had a funny feeling.
Last thing I remember, we were beautiful.
- Yes, it's interesting making the music that we do combining elements of different cultures and whether we should be doing that and when we're making music, how much respect is due to the original creators or the indigenous people whose music we're being influenced by.
I think it's so important to make people aware of these traditions and these sounds, and these styles, the extra elements we add are just usually for the dance floor, just for people who don't speak this African language or Spanish, or something like that so they can understand it in English.
So yeah, we give as much respect as we can and try not to offend anyone as we do it.
Hello, we are Crystal Fighters and this song is called Yellow Sun.
Burn up, every cloud above my head, clear the smog and let me rest
Somewhere, every room inside this house, covered with the memory
Of love, all we had, there's nothing left,
stars are on the loose again.
Searching, trying to find a better way, hoping we can find it.
I don’t wanna go Back there there’s nothing left
For me, what did you expect?
I can’t, I can’t get by without you, babe, I can’t, I can’t get by
I can’t, I can’t get by without you, babe, I can’t, I can’t get high
Like I'm dancing on the yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow sun.
Like I'm dancing on the yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow sun.
Take off, one way ticket to the sky, I’m gon’ fight for my life
I’m gone, burning bridges like the waves,
fire running through my veins
Unchain, form a ladder fantasy,
done with all the make believe Know that, know that
I don’t wanna go Back there there’s nothing left
For me, what did you expect?
I can’t, I can’t get by without you, babe, I can’t, I can’t get by
I can’t, I can’t get by without you, babe, I can’t, I can’t get high
Like I’m dancing on the yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow sun
Like I’m dancing on the yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow sun
Evening's coming pretty soon,
I'm thinking we go dancing on the silver moon.
Hanging in the purple sky,
floating free is how we're meant to do like angels.
Know that, baby, you should know that.
Know that, baby, you should know that.
I can’t, I can’t get by without you, babe, I can’t, I can’t get by
I can’t, I can’t get by without you, babe, I can’t, I can’t get by, get by
I can’t, I can’t get by without you, babe, I can’t, I can’t get high
Like I'm dancing on the yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow sun.
Like I'm dancing on the yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow sun.
Like I'm dancing on the yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow sun.
Like I'm dancing on the yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow sun.
Dancing on the yellow yellow sun.
- We love to travel as a band.
Of course, we get to come play concerts and gigs in certain places but there's a whole world out there which doesn't need a Crystal Fighters concert.
So we try and go to those places, learn as much as we can from there, whether it be the rhythms or the instruments or buying different shakers or percussion from around the world.
And people, some indigenous chant or a group of people singing together, I think that's something we want to get into more and more, and we've always said the gang vibe has been part of the Crystal Fighters sound even since the beginning.
- Yeah, I think we make a point as well to include music that people can relate to relatively easily, and parts of our albums and our live shows, it's important to feel free enough to sing along if you want to.
- I think it is a bit strange that our shows, there is this kind of... yeah, it's like the crowd becomes this big choir or something.
We're very blessed, very thankful that that has somehow happened.
It wasn't necessarily intentional when we're writing songs.
She was a wild child on the dance floor far away here
I was dragged into her spell.
She came to me, an explosion of mystery Was she real? I couldn't tell.
Who cares? She made me party all night,
party all day, party all day-ay-ay
Party all night, party all day, party all day-ay-ay
She was a whirlwind blowing life into the party
dancing me down the road to hell, the road to hell, it's getting hot
She came to me and changed my whole story
My secret love, I couldn't tell
Who cares? She made me party all night,
party all day, party all day-ay-ay
Party all night, party all day, party all day
She makes you feel like you can party all night,
You can, you can, you can
Will she get there when the night turns to morning? Be there to pick me up again, up again
Or take me down that path of destruction
no chance of getting home for days Like who cares?
She made me party all night,
party all day, party all day-ay-ay
Party all night, party all day, party all day
She makes you feel like you can party all night,
you can, you can, you can
Party all night, party all day, party all day-ay-ay
Party all night, party all day, party all day
She makes you feel like you can party all night
you can, you can, you can, you can
Oh eya oh, eya oh ey Eya oh eya oh, eya oh ey
Eya oh eya oh, eya oh ey Eya oh eya oh, eya oh ey
Eya oh eya oh, eya oh ey
'Cause you know we got to.
Eya oh eya oh, eya oh ey
Yeah, we always got to.
Eya oh eya oh, eya oh ey
And it's always me and you, always me and you, oh ey
Party all night, party all day, party all day-ay-ay
Party all night, party all day, party all day-ay-ay
Party all night, party all day, party all day-ay-ay
Party all night, party all day, party all day
She makes you feel like you can party all night
You can, you can, you can, you can, you can
No stopping now, ain't no way out we're always down to
Party all night, party all day, party all day-ay-ay
Party all night, party all day, party all day-ay-ay
Party all night, party all day, party all day-ay-ay
Party all night, party all day, party all day-ay-ay
- Our new record is called Everything Is My Family.
It just came out.
- It opens with a sort of monologue by a wise man from Peru who I met in Costa Rica.
Open your spirit.
Open your soul.
- He allowed me to record the beginning of the meditation that we were in and he sort of gives a little speech about the work that we're doing.
We just went through and just cut out the bits that seemed like that they resonate, you know, with the music and with the work that we're doing.
And a lot of that as human beings and as musicians, as people, is trying to focus on the moment and let go of the past and any sort of kind of potentially crippling baggage that we hold on to, whether it be physical or mental.
And these guys put it really well and it was nice because it was kind of half in Spanish, half in English, which is kind of the heritage of the band.
We love having that on there.
It kind of sets the mood for the album.
Do you ever get tired of feeling alone? Hmmm-mmmm
When the lights come on and there's no one at home. Hmmm-mmmm
She said she wanted to break out, to break outta here
and I believed every move she made, she made
She said she knew an easier way out of here and I believed every word she said
I woke up this morning, had a funny feeling
Last thing I remember, we were beautiful
The sun came up and God, she had left me nothing
Where have all the good girls gone? Woah
Where have all the good girls gone?
Hold tight, my love, and the stars will appear. Hmmm-mmmm
All the words she said when she shot me right here. Hmmm-mmmm
She said she knew an easier way out of here and I believed every word she said.
I woke up this morning, had a funny feeling
Last thing I remember, we were beautiful
The sun came up and God, she had left me nothing
Where have all the good girls gone? Woah
I woke up this morning, had a funny feeling
Last thing I remember, we were beautiful
The sun came up and God, she had left me nothing
Where have all the good girls gone? Woah
Where have all the good girls gone? Where have all the good girls gone?
Where have all the good girls gone? Where have all the good girls gone?
I woke up this morning, had a funny feeling
Last thing I remember, we were beautiful
The sun came up and God, she had left me nothing
Where have all the good girls gone? Woah
I woke up this morning, had a funny feeling
Last thing I remember, we were beautiful
The sun came up and God, she had left me nothing
Where have all the good girls gone? Woah Where have all the good girls gone?
- I think we're in an interesting time in human evolution, the evolution of the planet where there's divides being built up between different cultural groups and different nations, and we just wanted to bring people back to the idea that it's not only humans, obviously, we're all brothers and sisters, like, come on.
But then looking beyond that, to the animals, to the plants, the trees, it's all in this intimately connected life.
The environment is kind of intrinsically linked.
Every little thing is kind of part of this bigger whole and it's to remind people to respect that, to treat pretty much everything like your family, to be respectful, to understand what we have before we lose it all.
...to be blessed by the lords and the skies above
shiny, shiny light

Artist Bio

If you'd spent the last few years of your life wrapped up in an album like Star Of Love, you'd go looking for a little respite, too. Crystal Fighters' debut was the product of minds made manic by a deluge of fresh experience, both in the studio and on the road. It was inspired by an opera written by a man whose sanity disintegrated before he could finish it. It seemed to be influenced just as much by traditional Basque music from the 18th century as it was modern-day clubland, and contained residual traces of every genre, scene, style or party that had existed in-between.

But if album one was the sound of haywire electronic loops frantically kept spinning like plates on sticks, then album two is the story of Crystal Fighters mastering control of those rave repetitions, withdrawing from the chaos of the club to carve their music into the shape of songs.

To write the album, Crystal Fighters retreated to the Basque hills that they consider to be their spiritual home. Their music has always born traces of the local sound traditional instruments like txalapartas and txistus vying in the mix with razor's edge guitars and percolating techno synths but the purpose of this mission was different. Immersed in their creative cradle, they wanted to tap into something beyond their immediate experience, to uproot themselves from temporal bounds in order to write timeless songs.

These methods proved to be spectacularly successful Crystal Fighters wrote Cave Rave in its entirety during this two-month spell. There followed a quick detour to Los Angeles to produce the tracks, but after this it was still the songs written in the Basque country that remained most audible only now the melodies found there had been sharpened into hooks, songs exploded into towering anthems. This revelatory process also exposed the band to a new way of thinking: a realisation that even the cultures they considered traditional are comparatively new. The album draws deeper into universal, history-permeating themes of love, death, insanity and hope; using Basque culture as a stepping stone backward to the spiritual and primal.

The musical influences have widened too. Star Of Love was a manic, genre picking rush yet Cave Rave expands the sound palette even further. The beating hearts of Hispanic and African dance and Mexican electronic music 3bal now sit alongside folk and psychedelia, each artfully interpreted and united by the band's unconfined vision.

If Crystal Fighters have surrendered to the power of the song, they haven't run up the white flag in terms of energy. What's here is still an adrenal rush, and there is an awful lot here: the grandstanding of American road rock, the sweat of disco, the fervent initiative of punk, the house of Iberian twilights that anticipates everything coming very soon, all at once. What's changed is Crystal Fighters' ability to control those surges and as such Cave Rave feels a considerably more thoughtful and contemplative album than its predecessor.

Nevertheless, it has at its heart the same tension that provides all great records their emotional traction. Sebastian Pringle, Gilbert Vierich, and Graham Dickson are the three core members of Crystal Fighters, around whom a larger cadre of vocalists and instrumentalists revolve. They're the kind of people whose brains seem to be bubbling pots, all intensely preoccupied with anthropology, time travel, spirituality and their place in the universe, even as they're attempting to create the kind of cohesive sonic pieces that really connect and move people. They seem passionate about creating music that can make people dance, but that is equally adept at finding its way beneath a listener's skin.

With Cave Rave, Pringle, Vierich and Dickson have managed just that. The melodies, hooks and refrains of the album are so compelling it's almost as if Crystal Fighters had to devise them simply to navigate a way across the landscapes of their own avid genrelessness, to remain as masters of music that itself seems to be a disputed territory. Here you have a band hell-bent on locating their own musical heaven, a place beyond petty genre parameters, where all that remains, finally, is song, rhythm and sentiment, bursting in vivid colour from the dark of the silent Basque night.

Editorial

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Crystal Fighters

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