It would take a cyberpunk writer browning on the beach and rolling in Ecstasy to dream up Crystal Fighters.
Laure Stockley, one of two girls and three vocalists in the giddy dance act, was in the Pyrenees mountains, clearing out the isolated home of her batty grandfather, when she found the notes to an opera about the “Crystal Fighters.” A band, half British, half Spanish, was formed to stage this nutty, mystical stuff.
There’s nothing operatic about the septet’s debut, Star of Love, though it remains gloriously exuberant and detached from reality. The music is a hyperactive hybrid of folk and electronic elements. Spanish guitars flutter around drum and bass patterns. Traditional Basque instruments, like the txalaparta, a sort of xylophone made of wood two-by-fours, pound away under an onslaught of metal riffing and synthesizer squiggles. If it makes you mindlessly dance in a flock of sweat-flinging revelers, Crystal Fighters will incorporate it. They slurp up genres with omnivorous enthusiasm. Whether the boy-girl group is acting sweet or manic, there is an infectious joie de vivre. Er, alegría por la vida.
“Plage,” “At Home,” “Follow,” “Xtatic Truth” and “Champion Sound” are pure summer gold, like going to Ibiza and having a local take you off the beaten path, to where the locals let loose. Live, the troupe is wet and wild, lost in ritual. I almost feel bad for them having to play in a bar to a bunch of Midwesterners and their inhibitions.