Lazer Crystal – MCMLXXX

January 01, 1970

(Thrill Jockey)



If a duo from Chicago makes dark and driving electronic
music with vintage equipment, could it really be “retro”? Wouldn’t it just be expected? The city’s rich history of
harsh and aggressive sounds forged from drum machines and sequencers almost
makes it seem like a near-requirement that a band, if they choose not to engage
in angular, Midwestern punk, would indulge in music that insists its listeners
sport dark sunglasses and a drug problem. Nonetheless, the music put forth by
Lazer Crystal on their debut full-length does, indeed, have a deeply retrograde
feel to it, but instead of evoking the heyday of house or industrial music,
these two guys have sussed out a way to combine the insistence of motorik grooves and booming, tribal
percussiveness with squelchy, post-IDM glitch and a exactly none of the
seriousness that those three things evoke.


MCMLXXX is a heavy album – most notably on
thudding cuts like “Bad Indian” – but it’s also one that its creators clearly
had a good time creating. The Kraftwerk-on-acid blast of “Hot Pink BMX” is
three minutes of pure joy, riding atop a relentlessly ass-kicking rhythm that
would have been easily put to nefarious use by some hostile member of the Wax
Trax! crew.  Lazer Crystal really only
lose their way when they bother with vocals – “Lame Duck” sounds like an early
New Order outtake – but this is more a side effect of these two attempting to
mash up nearly every single good thing that happened with electronic music over
the past three decades than any real failure of execution.


“Bad Indian,”




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