(7 out of 10)
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.
Standout Tracks: “Bad Indian,” “Hot Pink BMX”
First appeared May 7, 2010 at Blurt Online.