Crystal Geometry
From the Rave to the Grave
Bloc Noir

There’s a certainly a literal way to read the title of French producer Crystal Geometry’s latest album From the Rave to the Grave; while the expansive fourteen track LP isn’t devoid of the warehouse-party industrial-techno that brought producer Maxime Fabre to the dance, his modular synth compositions have gotten a lot gnarlier and spookier in tone. Crystal Geometry is just as rhythmic and propulsive as ever, but now feels closer in spirit to ritual industrial like say, Trepaneringsritualen or The Devil & The Universe than any given Berlin-based act du jour.

A large part of that change is contextual more than anything; it wouldn’t have been unheard of for Crystal Geometry to dabble in earthier sounds (as with the hurdy-gurdy sounding patch that backs the glitchy drums and static stabs of “Death Note”), or to hear Maxime provide some growled or shrieked hook (like on the foreboding “Singularit√©”) but in concert the emphasis on these textural and structural ideas makes the whole record feel a lot different than much of Crystal Geometry’s previous catalogue. It also has the effect of laying groundwork for some genuine departures, as with “Vampyj” which splits the difference between rhythmic noise and lo-fi dungeon synth in a hail of saturated kicks, goblin vocals and horror movie organ sounds.

That gabber-rave-at-the-haunted-house vibe is definitely the most immediately identifiable aspect of the record as a whole, although there’s still plenty of Fabre’s trademark sound design and modular synth wizardry to be found. Check the raging “Fckthnzs” for example; yeah, you’re gonna notice the death industrial howls and the snatches of acoustic and electric guitar first, but listening to the careful way he places those elements in relation to the tight blasts of kick drum programming and synth sequences helps keep each element impactful, distinct and cutting even through the song’s rich, dark reverb. Elsewhere on “Surrender Yourself to S4at4n” you can find some clean 16th note synth sequences doubled and redoubled for maximum tension, a trick present in any number of previous Crystal Geometry tracks, no less effective for this particular instance’s droning bass and Satanic mission statement.

The record does feel a bit long, due mostly to the intensity of the tempo and oppressive atmosphere it deals in. The downtempo combo-breaker “Ashes” comes early on, with the last half of the record feeling relentless to the point of being kind of exhausting if you’re not steeled for it. That said, it’s still a commendable effort from an act who have made leaps forward with each release, eschewing easy categorization and carving out a largely unexplored combinations of sounds and ideas. From the Rave to the Grave is entirely its own thing, with Crystal Geometry free to pursue its ideas further or depart from them entirely as his whims dictate.

Buy it.