Crystal Shippps - Dirty Dancer

12 songs
37:42 minutes
***** ***
Raw Onion


It hasnít been that long since Danish singer/songwriter crafted his alter ego Crystal Shipsss which should be considered an outlet allowing him to try out more experimental structures. After a first still rather shy debut album last year which came as a double record - one disc containing the stripped down, bare original versions, the other disc offering highly interesting remixes, the self-titled EP which followed earlier this year showed already a highly matured project. The question that needs to be asked is of course if Crystal Shipsss are able to maintain that high standard on the second longplayer.

My first time through Dirty Dancer left me rather clueless. Inspired by - for want of a better word, letís say - experimental artists like Daniel Johnston, Xiu Xiu and Grandaddy, Jacob Faurholt doesnít really respect conventional structures, and even though the twelve songs on the album are mostly rather short and donít even run a total of forty minutes, he still manages to rip people from one weird mood to another extreme one, and I guess it takes an open mind to not only digest all of this, but also perversely enjoy it.

And that latter part might be what makes one feel guilty, because Dirty Dancer is so far Jacob Faurholt at his most depressing I have ever heard. The darkest piece, I Had A Friend, is a track about a friend of his who lost his life on a ferry accident, and it is really impossible to empathise with the artist at this point. I felt similarly voyeuristic at the imploring Iím Not Insane, another example where Faurholt is doing a mental striptease. But letís not only focus at his state of mind, but also at the truly mesmerising way he comes up with his music. Deep down, Jacob Faurholt is still the singer/songwriter that he was when he started his career, but nowadays he adds a lot of electronic components and sometimes rhythms that come close to being breakbeats, plus his painfully sincere broken vocals, in order to create a sonic universe where eventually only he and his music exists.

As a big admirer of Daniel Johnston myself, I of course really like those outside artist parallels, and I am also convinced that Crystal Shipsss is never sounding as pretentiously arty as Xiu Xiu, so in the end I really came to like this album. Dirty Dancer may not be as exploring as the debut Yay, and it also doesnít come with the pleasant brevity of the self-titled EP, but it shows a once again matured artist that may never reach commercial stardom (not that that ever was the intention), but whose music continues to enchant my ears, and hopefully those of many more.

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