Live: Sensual Strobe. Crystal Castles, Magazzini Generali.

Unless you've been residing in a sound-proofed bomb shelter for the past couple of years you'll doubtless have seen Crystal Castles' Alice Glass romp about on a stage sometime, somewhere, either writhing about on the floor like an epileptic spider, being lovingly devoured by the front few rows or flinging a strobe about like some rabid Catholic priest dangling incense whilst promenading down the aisle of some pseudo-rave stronghold. But then they're so head-splittingly obstreperous you'd probably have heard them were you 20,000 leagues below sea level. With Google-baffling sophomore LP Crystal Castles (spot the difference between album names #1 and #2...) recently rush-released, tonight's sold out Magazzini Generali show serves as ample introduction to the live translation of a long player that's as true to its origins as it is redefining and revolutionary.

Where the two records most certainly differ however, is in the apparence of Glass; where her blood-curdling shrieks are spat in your face throughout the likes of earlier cuts Love and Caring and Through the Hosiery, the dastardly Gameboy blips and unsettling barks are largely absent from their latest offering, with Magic Spells being the main point of contact across the gulf the bouncer-pestering duo have opened up between back catalogue and pastures new. And so to the live show, and how to recreate an album that's about as organic as David Cameron's shopping basket. What would Glass content herself with, given her marginalisation?

Evidently the answer to such musings is, well, in exactly the same fashion she throttled our attentions by the neck many moons ago, prowling viscerally like some sort of vampirical panther whose glare alone could instill enough dripping fear to induce rather perturbing heart palpitations. Emerging amongst a thick fog to the incoherence and canine howls of Fainting Spells, a couple of notations once again become rather blatant. One: whilst Crystal Castles (2) may be of a comparatively subdued disposition, they're going to deliver yet another relentless barrage of distorted blips and ear drum-rupturing chaos. And two: so relentless are these leather-clad Canadians that they're never going to see out much more than half a football match's worth of stage time. The glinting keys and blistering live drums that cascade around the murky walls of Magazzini as Baptism rears into view, paired with retina-tearing strobes that appear to come almost directly from Glass' abdomen ensure a sensory overload of Aphex Twin proportions, as brows sweat, crowds surge and obsession thrives. Courtship Dating sounds like a concision of the 80s squeezed into three minutes, then put in rewind and finally stamped and shattered into thousands of pieces of muscle exhaustion, the garbled gobbledygook of Crimewave still seems as fresh as those fumes they pump out of Subway's doors and Alice Practice is as petulantly bratty as John Hughes leading a choir of Courtney Love, La Roux and Zack De La Rocha. Yet it's the latest slabs of mentally unstable electro schizophrenia that baffle most brilliantly tonight; Year of Silence, the Sigur Rós-sampling white elephant of the record is omitted but the likes of the relatively tranquil synth swathes of Celestica, the preceding aural onslaught that is Doe Deer and the euphoric tape deck ums and ahs of Empathy are all as blinding as a night in a cave with nothing but Glass and her beloved strobe. Before momentarily disappearing Intimate enthralls, despite Alice's irrelevance throughout. She indulges in a spot of rough'n'tumble and sweats all over the barrier whilst the perpetually hooded Ethan Kath dishes out hefty, yet gentle plinking samples. Returning, they unleash a feral Black Panther, still perhaps their Top Trump and with that, they vanish definitively. Whilst their revolution may not be great in the sodden din of the live setting, they'll be dousing us in human substances as long as those limbs of hers hold out...

Photo lovingly courtesy of Hipster Runoff as taking photos of Crystal Castles with analogue films is about as likely to come off as The Enemy's Tom Clarke seducing Zooey Deschanel.
   YES NO (Live) by Crystal Castles by abstractdavid