Shock and aw - Page 2

Crystal Castles chart success, rack up chiptune chafes
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Breaking glass houses

I believed it was a failed experiment, but the track leaked and people were trading it on the Internet and finally in 2007 a label called Trouble Records decided to release it as a limited seven-inch single. It sold 2,000 copies in a week." But at least part of the world outside Crystal Castles listened closely.

All of which explains some of the controversy swirling around the band. In April the Torontoist and Pitchfork reported on the duo's use of Trevor Brown's black-eyed Madonna image for T-shirts, the "Alice Practice" single cover, and an early "banned" Crystal Castles cover. The band has stated that they initially found the art uncredited on an old flyer, and went on to form a handshake agreement with the artist. Brown, on the other hand, alleges he was never paid for the work's use, while the group and its management allege that they tried to contact him without success.

Furthermore, the chiptune or 8-bit community appears to be up in arms regarding Crystal Castles' sampling, leading BlogTo.com to report on Crystal Castles' alleged use of Belgian producer Lo-bat's "My Little Droid Needs a Hand" for their track "Insecticon," which some say is outside the provisions of Creative Commons licensing (the work was available free for noncommercial uses, though some chip-tuners claim "Insecticon" has been used promotionally in a way that violates Creative Commons' spirit).

Meanwhile Crystal Castles, which has deferred comment on the allegations, continues to navigate a fine, fragile line. Though the fortress has clearly been breached, the duo emphasizes its hermetic remove ("We created the songs in isolation," Kath writes), which is colored by a somewhat understandable defensiveness. ("We think there is hostility in all the tracks"). "People seem to love or hate the music," Kath writes. "We never thought about our listeners. We put these songs together for ourselves, and it's a shock that anyone is listening."

At the very least, the twosome have retained the kind of fatalistic humor that surely led them to create the Crystal Castles CD art: an image of the pair looking down, faces hidden, and bowing — or rising up. "In the universe of pop music," Kath opines, "we are the litter collecting at the sewer grate."

CRYSTAL CASTLES

Tues/10, 8 p.m., $16

Independent

628 Divisadero, SF

www.theindependentsf.com

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