Synth Analysis – Crystal Castle’s ‘Crimewave’


Crystal Castles are a Canadian electronic music duo who primarily use programmed synths to create their dark, spacious and catchy music. The track I have chosen to analyse particularly is ‘Crimewave’ off of the duo’s self-titled album, and is a collaborative effort with band Health. The song features a constant bassy, synth and different melodic synths, complimented by singer Alice Glass’s sparse, sampled vocals and a simple beat.

Crystal Castles fan pages state that in 2011, Ethan from Crystal Castle’s used a Korg MS2000 synth, which was an upgrade from a MicroKorg previously used. The track has many different synth parts that come and go, so the extra control on the MS2000 make sense, in conjunction with a DAW like Live. There is an 8-bit style synth that plays a little solo a few minutes into the song, complimented by other video-game like effects. The bass in the song is low and constant , which compliments the drums and leaves plenty of room for melody. The tracks closes with the synth dropping out and Alice singing over a distorted, but still audibly acoustic drum beat. Her vocals are still manipulated using a sampler. Because Crystal Castles are somewhat more like pop music than their peers (in that they have hooks) they seem to use synth sounds reminiscent of most people (e.g. video games) with solid drums and beat.
I’m attracted to the punk-esque style that Crystal Castles exhibit in their music. Similar to Justice, the duo often have gritty synth sounds and samples and sections of ‘real’ instruments despite being manipulated, as well as Alice Glass’s (almost) screamed vocals. The techniques used in this would be beneficial for our remix assignment, as they’ve incorporated a lot of gritty and ‘real’ sounds into something inherently electronic that is not exhibited in this song alone.

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