CRYSTAL SHIPSSS - I Will See No Moon No Sky
It should be well known by now that Crystal Shipsss is the alter ego of Danish lo-fi singer/songwriter Jacob Faurholt. The music he releases under his own name has a very playful lo-fi take on indie pop, but with his band Crystal Shipsss, things tend to sound messier. In the past I really liked this more experimental sound, but on his third longplayer I Will See No Moon No Sky, I was initially afraid that this would be too much for my ears.
The opener Metal, which was released as a single in February, is still a more or less normal sounding song, and at two minutes something we have come to expect from Crystal Shipsss in the past. The song starts out quietly enough but soon gets a loud and very repetitive rhythm that reminds me of the Stooges and Alan Vega’s Suicide. It is also meant as the leitmotif of the album, meaning that I Will See No Moon No Sky is Jacob Faurholt’s metal album. But don’t expect any kind of generic sounding metal. Crystal Shipsss is this time around the main man himself, joined by his long time collaborators William Kudahl Sørensen and Jens Christian Madsen. As a special guest, Nadja’s very own Aidan Baker has added some of his sublime guitar work.
The second song Deer is clocking in at eight minutes, and it is here where it becomes clear that things are not anymore the way they used to be. The beginning of the song may still be vintage Faurholt: a sedate rhythm, frail falsetto vocals, soothing synth notes, but soon a heavily distorted guitar comes from behind to give the song a warm and fuzzy drone carpet. The latter half turn into ambient Eno territory, preparing for Drum which is at ten minutes even a little longer. This long track starts in a similar if a little more industrial ambient atmosphere, but three minutes into the song adds an incredibly low tuned guitar that recalls memories of the sublime Sunn O))). So this is the album’s drone metal moment, and where most such bands add gruelling growls, Jacob Faurholt contrasts the music’s harshness with his fragile high voice, creating thus even more emotional impact.
The album’s second half begins with the seven minute long Crown, probably the most challenging piece on the record. This is hardly music by regular standards. Where the preceding material always had its moments of lucidity, Crown is a dark and gloomy descent into the artist’s deepest subconscious. Wobbling synthesizers, fragmentary warped vocals, distorted guitars and effects put on effects make this the most despairing sound collage Jacob Faurholt has ever come up with. This is an album about breaking up and breaking down, and never has it been clearer than here. The last two songs are four minutes each, with II being, next to the opener, the only more or less regular track on the album. The music sounds very dark, comes with a rather subdued mix, thus leaving the strange vocals stranded in a desert of barren desolation. And still there is a lot of beauty in this song that reminds me somehow of Kraftwerk. The concluding Head comes with a Twin Peaks guitar sound, and feels a little like the denouement the artist probably needed after this hellish rollercoaster ride.
I Will See No Moon No Sky is definitely not the album you should listen to to get acquainted with Crystal Shipsss. I have followed their music from the beginning, and even though I felt very challenged at first, repeated listening revealed the record’s many intricate beauties. At thirty-five minutes, this is hardly a long album, yet despite its short running time, Crystal Shipsss never feel rushed, always take their time to build up a part until it culminates in near perfection. The first half of the album is simply divine, and the second part also has to offer a lot. Fans of experimental music will have a lot to decipher on this strange ambient drone metal masterpiece.