Rarely does a song or track unrelated to one significant life event stick in our heads. Yet that is precisely what happened to me listening to Crystal when first released and later, and the result of a series of surprising happenings makes me hold this tune dear more than any other. Sometimes, a particular musical piece can represent not just the time it is listened to in the beginning but a collection of intervals when played repeatedly over time: it may create the ultimate, combined memory of moments.
Pinpointing what exactly made it memorable is tricky. Maybe it was the first moment I listened to it, as it was yet unreleased, or the unexpected sharing of it during that week, or perhaps the fact that the composers were physically sitting next to me when it happened. All things that would make it unforgettable on its own. However, I know what caused it to etch into my mind is what the piece meant to me then and now. I had written a first review of the composition as part of the “Barock” release.
The mischievous musical journey we become part of when we listen to Crystal’s energetic sparring crescendos, and diminuendos is delightful. It is easy to find oneself snapping or drumming fingers, whistling along, or harmonizing. Cello, piano, and synth accompany the unmistakable violin and electric guitar. The balanced arrangement is pleasing to the mind, compelling for the soul, and emotional through tempo changes by accelerando and ritenuto; in a way, mimicking changing heart rhythms.
I perceive the piece in tempo rubato a piacere. I had scribbled those musical terms on the back of a crumpled junk mail envelope on my desk a couple of months back; beneath the words, I had drawn a smiley face – and it still makes me smile now. Not only a musical term in Italian, but the phrase also translates to “time stolen at pleasure.” That smudged ink prompted a second, more personal, writing on Crystal, transposing to emotion; I felt like a silly thief who stole freely given time!
Crystal, by intrinsic properties, is mirrored in the namesake musical piece. A crystal is never perfect: a few imperfect atoms can affect its ordering, creating vacancies when missing and interstitials when located elsewhere. Such defects make up a pure crystal. Bonds, growth, electric properties, and magnetism all impact any solid material in which the component atoms are arranged in a definite pattern and whose surface regularity reflects its internal symmetry. Just like people. Perfectly imperfect.
For me, listening to music is cathartic, making music is liberating, and “living” it all together moves atoms within us to conceptualize and create endless refractions. Like atoms rearranging, adapting, moving, creating order from chaos and chaos from order. Crystal, for me, remains the most evident musical proof of how unseen atom defects result in flawless purity. “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” French writer Victor Hugo could not have put it better.
THE VIDEO SERIES
At the end of February, Golden Salt released the violin & drum edit of Crystal, showcasing the multi-instrumentalist sides of the duo. As it is a natural habit of mine, I can use the term “faceting” when referring to this composition and this contrasting evolution. When continuing the parallel thought process, faceting refracts the light inside a gem and reflects light on the outside aspects, thereby maximizing radiance and intensity.
This initial “musical faceting” of Crystal radiates energy and multiplies its power. Bending the already present brightness of the composition, this edit has even the most resistant of listeners tapping along and prompts an approving nod and knowing wink of amusement. The first 15 seconds are outstanding (as are the remaining 137). Try and keep your feet from moving if you can! What is there not to like?
Mid-April, a few days short of 5 months since the audio release of Crystal, Golden Salt released the original video production accompanying the track, set in the distinctive studio/workshop of renowned marble sculptor Massimo Galleni in northern Tuscany. Marble and crystal mesh together: marble, a rigid and polished material, tends to reflect acoustic radiation almost entirely, practically as a mirror does with light; it is also considered soundproofing, deflecting sound waves due to its high specific weight. As a chemical compound, crystal is not part of an aggregated solid like a rock and stands independently, while marble consists of minerals that recrystallize under the right conditions.
Using a specially crafted plaster ride cymbal, which shatters, recomposes, and in the end, breaks completely during the drum sequences, perhaps is meant to depict the idea of strength in fragility. One cannot appreciate strength without experiencing fragility – thus unexpectedly creating balance when both are equally valued. That is simply one interpretation my mind pictured: where my “Crystal” experience comes full circle.
On May 11, Golden Salt released the violin and electric guitar edit. This video focuses on the duo’s primary instruments, and the surgically precise videography is superior to the original video release. The contrast between the duo and the set scene is stark and eye-catching; the custom-made instruments smooth the color difference nicely. The Golden Salt crew certainly shines in this production, from videography to make-up to hairdressing. The marble studio’s warning sign (“Danger. Mind your Hands”) at the beginning of the video seems to extend more than to the statuary lab itself. These ladies should also take care of their own hands, as they are the ultimate creators of their musical minds! Follow Golden Salt on their YouTube channel and social media for the next release and share your thoughts directly – they will appreciate it!
P.S. A PERSONAL MEMORY
In October of 2022, we had the opportunity to spend time with Ari and Ele, the two women known as the classical/rock cross-over duo Golden Salt. They made Dallas one of their stops on their leisure/work trip to the United States. I draw a distinct line between a working relationship and a personal relationship – neither includes nor excludes the other, yet they have a solid separate connotation; support and critique are unaffected either way. I do not find it hard to manage, though many do.
During their weeklong visit, we spent many hours discussing anything under the sun, professionally and personally. We plotted, sketched, and dissected music strategies and plans, and as steadfast advocates for human rights, we thought about a more assertive approach to propagating awareness and supporting universal rights we have simply because we exist as human beings — all that while sharing meals in between and exchanging irresistible energy throughout.
We laughed, had fun, slept little, and enjoyed every minute of the mutual company with surprising and effortless ease. We also had the chance to hear and see them play. Golden Salt is always in its natural element, which became crystal clear during our time together. It was an unusual opportunity to appreciate the inspiration, drive, and commitment to music and life that drives them, and us, as musicians and humans. Paraphrasing, “What you see (and hear) is what you get.” Ari and Ele are engaging, natural, inspiring, and motivating musicians and women.
The memories tied to Crystal will always stay with us. This blog is about creating, maintaining, and growing ongoing connections that empower us to share our thoughts, knowledge, and ideas to reach a gratifying condition: unifying and making ourselves heard and seen, especially now, in a world where it seems evermore challenging to come together and having confidence in one another. A spur-of-the-moment message over social media developed into proof that, though undoubtedly rare, it can happen. Crystal tied it all together in this case, and we will always be grateful for the unique experience.