Lazer Crystals - MCMLXXX

by Hiro Master Rating:6.5 Release Date:2010-05-03

Ever wondered what would happen if you threw the Jeff Wayne-recorded musical version of War of the Worlds in a tumble dryer with Kraftwerk, adding a dash of Spandau Ballet? The result wouldn't be far off Lazer Crystal's debut, MCMLXXX. The Chicago-based, self-described "musical node" certainly isn't lost for a vision for its sound. "The human race has reached the moment where we must open the mysterious shutters of the impossible to seek the unknown," the band says. "We are moving beyond time and space toward the absolute, since we have discovered eternal, omnipresent speed." All they want is to create music that reflects that ideal.

Is that clear? Yeah, Lazer Crystal clear.

The funny thing is, somehow they're not far off the mark. There's no doubt that this concept-album-of-sorts adheres to its theme. In fact, it's so deftly pieced together that you'd be forgiven for mistaking it for a piece of musical theatre. And that's sort of what ingratiates it to you - the fact that there's an element of showmanship here. But at the same time, you feel a bit cheated when you get stuck in and realize it's all been done before.

Like so much of the music from the year, MCMLXXX (1980, for the non-Romans) doesn't want for synths and drum machines tailor-made for the robot. Nor does it deprive its sporadic vocals of a little futuristic enhancement. Yet for those not au fait with the sounds of an eternal, omnipresent speed, there's a surprising number of accessible tracks. 'Love Rhombus' could have come straight out of a Pink Floyd recording session - although a sufficient number of synthesized hooks keep it on script - while 'Lame Duck' threatens to instil the faintest hint of radio-friendliness, in a Pet Shop Boys 'It's a Sin' kind of way.

None of that's a bad thing, unless you're fiercely trying to promote your sound as original. That's where Lazer Crystal let themselves down. They talk up a vision of music so far removed from today's sound waves that you think you might actually have a close encounter of the third kind. But what they deliver is an album that's the culmination of four decades worth of experimentation, and not really anything unique. Putting the pedantry aside, however, MCMLXXX is a formidable debut from an accomplished outfit.

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