Monday, February 22, 2010

The Crystal Ark 'The City Never Sleeps' (DFA 2241)

The Crystal Ark 'The City Never Sleeps' (DFA 2241)
1. The City Never Sleeps
2. The City Never Sleeps (Instrumental)

After five weeks of performing and traveling around Brazil, long-term DFA stalwart Gavin Russom returned home with not only a love for the music he'd discovered there, but also a newfound source of inspiration for his own meticulously crafted recordings. The Brazilian music driving Russom's sonic explorations included forms as eclectic and varied as Carioca Funk, atabaque drumming, Tropicalia and South American style rave. At the very same time, Russom was working toward a sound in the image of seminal tracks from Praga Khan and Nikki Van Lierop, with special inspiration taken from their Phantasia "Inner Light" and "Violet Skies" 12"s. The material that grew out of these disparate inspirational points – and became The Crystal Ark, Russom's latest project – is a perfect distillation of those varied sounds into infectious, spellbinding dance floor music.

"The City Never Sleeps," The Crystal Ark's first 12" release, is an exercise in musical restraint, tension and release. The single begins Рthe temptation is to add "innocently enough" Рwith heart-rattling bass. That naked pulse is intertwined with hissing cymbals, percussion and suddenly distinct handclaps; from there, Russom adds and removes layer upon layer of sonic elements: wiggling electric impulses; shuffling percussion; panting vocals. These sounds roll over and under each other, pushing to the forefront and then disappearing beneath the surface. It's a slow climb to a taut, suspenseful m̩lange of sound that breaks Рfinally Рinto a dizzying rush of spectral vocals, acoustic drumming and driving, repetitive rhythms.

Viva Ruiz, whose vocals figure prominently here in both spoken and sung form, has shaped the track's intense feel with lyrics "found... through dreams and dance." Russom has performed and recorded for DFA extensively – as Black Meteoric Star and in collaboration with Delia Gonzalez on a number of singles and projects. The Crystal Ark continues to establish Gavin Russom's talent as a singular producer as well as recording artist.

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