Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
You can never be braced for a catharsis, no matter how hard you try. It would just be a dawning, if you could actually prepare for it, be awaiting it. It would be a deduction, something inferred from logical equivalents. It would just be something that we could feel washing down over us, like stepping into the hot stream coming hurriedly out from a silent showerhead. The catharsis makes us leap from our seats, staggered and blinking, trying to get our pupils focused on what we're looking at, at what just happened to us.
Long Beach, California, band Crystal Antlers takes us to that point of possession, when we've paused reality and heightened our perceptions considerably to points that are off the charts. We're getting worked over and worked over. We're to our breaking points and our boiling points - the intersection of which is a blackout - and we're treated to some of the most dramatic white light we've ever seen. We wonder where it came from and we wonder if it's going to stay this bright and this brazen for a while or if this is just something we'll get to experience briefly and only periodically throughout the rest of our days. This could be it.
Lead singer Jonny Bell, along with percussionist Damian Edwards, guitarist Andrew W. King, organist Cora Foxx and drummer Kevin Stuart, make music that is forceful and impatient in ways that make you feel as if you've been sucked into a chase that's happening on the surface of the sun. There are exclamations and there's anxiety that bubbles and hits you right between the eyes, coaxing you to follow these crazed men and one woman, who though seemingly unstable, might have some great reasons for being crazed and might know their way out of here, wherever this is.
Crystal Antlers songs on are riddled with raw-bone emotion, with the sorts of feelings that have been gnawing and festering for lord knows how long, until they just fray and blast out like wildfires. They're untamed emotions sent to alter us and Crystal Antlers manipulate them in ways that make them feel as if they've been dug up and pulled out of your own garden, even though you could swear you've never seen them before. All the same, you're stuck dealing with them, right here and right now. You feel better for having to go through it though. It seems as if there's a change happening, as if there could be a cleansing taking place within this fogginess. It's nothing we could have seen coming.
*Essay originally published February, 2011