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Ear to the Sound: crystal & quiet

On their first EP, "Sun Balloon", alternative-pop outfit crystal & quiet skillfully weaves soulful sounds and catchy melodies to conjure a sonic experience that's as moving as it is dance-able. It's a stirring, passionate, and nuanced musical journey with taut instrumentation and musicianship.

crystal and quiet. (Photo: Jonathan Wood)

crystal and quiet. (Photo: Jonathan Wood)

 The EP is an impressive feat, and each song deftly balances a broad amalgamation of sounds that are vocal and instrumental, organic and electronic, warm and rhythmic. There are hints of alt-J, Glass Animals, and even Jamiroquai, but some of the impassioned performances feel like they hearken back to artists of the golden days of soul like Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.

 Lead singer crystal's textured vocals balance pop sensibilities with soulful depths. It's perfect for the songs and crystal perfectly glides into the sonic landscape of each track. As a vocalist, crystal is quiet and small when the songs call for intimacy, and powerful and soaring in dense musical climaxes. He stretches the vocal elements of passion and control while never losing either. One listen to this EP, and anyone would agree that crystal deserves to be recognized alongside any of the vocal giants of modern pop. Very few vocalists in any genre can execute melodies so organically and perfectly as the vocals on "Sun Balloon".

 The guitar and synth work by Onus Lumens is a superb complement to the songs, with warm, tube-like tones and imaginative licks that guide the sometimes unexpected sonic twists and turns of each track. Ian Holsteen's keys further sculpt the fathoms of elegant sonic architecture. The drums and percussion of Jesse Moffat and Abraham Neuwelt maintain the pulse to give "Sun Balloon" a cadent beat. The EP is a wonderful admixture of elements that produce a composite of songs that is somehow even more than the sum of their parts.

 But the real achievement is how harmoniously the skillful musicianship sits in a framework of songs that are still so accessible, soulful, and purely beautiful. After several listens in, there are still deeper levels of warmth, fullness, and inspired musical orchestration to discover. "Sun Balloon" is a labyrinthine journey for the ears, but at the same time, it's an instantly resonant, emotionally powerful, and lush concoction for music lovers. This is definitely an EP that you'll love at first listen, but it's also a journey that unfolds further with each spin.

 In summary, crystal & quiet creates moving, compelling sonic nectar on "Sun Balloon". It's a layered, multifaceted musical journey that is still an emotionally moving experience. This is an outstanding EP that you need to hear. Check out their album release show at the Sunset on February 15th and listen to "Sun Balloon" - available here on 14 February.