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Crystal Palace: Still There

The journey that brings us to the ninth studio album from Germany’s Crystal Palace has been a long and at times arduous one, which has also provided some excellent neo-prog inflected music along the way. The line-up for Still There, an album about the impact individuals have, or maybe do not have, on life in general, finds Yenz Strutz on vocals, bass and additional keys, Tom Ronney on drums and additional keys, Frank Koehler on keys and Nils Conrad on guitars, and disappointingly, no keys(!), which quite unusually for this outfit, matches that from the release which preceded it.

The idea behind the album came from Yenz climbing the stairs of a viewing point in a public park in Berlin and as he did so discovering the slogans “still alive” and “still there” freshly daubed on the walls of each floor. A few days later Yenz read of a double suicide that took place in the same location on the same day… Now, admittedly, that hardly sounds like the starting point for a truly joyous musical experience, but cleverly Crystal Palace have managed to combine that framework with music that possesses real character and strong enough dynamics to still hold on to the central atmosphere while never quite tumble in on itself. And as you traverse tracks such as “Winter’s End On Water”, so you are treated to darkly constructed pieces that are still quite forceful and memorable in execution.

In places I’m reminded of the clever pacing that Galahad bring to their work, while the smooth but still progressive side of RPWL is also a touching point. “Planned Obsolescence” combines both elements quite excellently, soaring keys and crashing drums pouncing on you with real intent and an ability to drag you along with them. The combination of softly rounded keyboards and biting riffs here also play well with the album’s desire to hit hard, while persuading you gently to its charms, and that is possibly one of the main strengths that is revealed after repeat listens.

Still There should, on the basis of its starting point, be a stark and tough journey - and lyrically in places it certainly is. Musically that also is true, but then so is it that Still There knows how to do all of this in a manner that undoubtedly rewards the listener in a variety of ways.

Track Listing
1. 126 Steps

2. Leaving This Land

3. A Plan You Can’t Resist

4. Winter’s End On Water

5. Dear Mother

i. The Empty Wall

ii.The Long Goodbye

6. Planned Obsolescence

7. Orange Popsicle Sky

8. Shadows

9. A Scream From The Wall

10. These Stairs

11. The Unquiet Window

i. Moving On Moving On

ii.Keep My Words

12. Still There

i. Memories On The Ground

ii.From Here To Nowhere

Added: July 30th 2022
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Crystal Palace online
Hits: 436
Language: english

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