September 5, 2013

LP: White Poppy - White Poppy

Crystal Dorval once again proves that she's the queen of mystic dream pop. 

It's been a little over a year since we first wrote about Crystal Dorval. If you're not familiar with her, Crystal is an immensely talented visual artist and musician from British Columbia who has recorded under a handful of names in the past but most recently as White Poppy. Through White Poppy, Crystal creates haunting, intense, and shimmering music that falls somewhere on the spectrum between ambient noise and dream pop. I fell in love with Crystal's I Had a Dream cassette last summer and when I wrote about the album I wondered why more people weren't paying attention to her. But since we last visited Crystal's work, it seems like that question is finally being answered. On September 3rd, Crystal released her debut full length record, White Poppy, on Not Not Fun Records and accompanying the release comes a West Coast tour and coverage on sites like The Fader and Gorilla vs. Bear. And after listening to White Poppy, this shouldn't come as any surprise.

One of the reasons I was first attracted to Crystal's work was her ability to craft music that transcends the different parts that go into making it. When reviewing I Had a Dream, I noted that Crystal was incredibly skilled at manipulating sound to create one overall masterpiece instead of just specific standout songs. She continues this trend on White Poppy and shows significant growth from her past efforts by creating an album that flows together in pure innovative brilliance. White Poppy is the cross between an experimental pop album and a series of beautiful and complex soundscapes. There are times when White Poppy dips into the more (used loosely) traditional shoegaze-y and dreamy pop side of music and others when it turns into lush, spaced out instrumentals that sound like the soundtrack to a movie about being lost in the depths of the universe. Songs like "Darkness Turns to Light", "Wear Me Away", and "Dizzy" have an undeniable catchy nature to them with their varying layers of guitar, drumbeats, synth, and keyboard with the added use of Crystal's voice. But then there are songs like "Emotional Intelligence" and "Skygaze" that operate more like wide, sparse soundscapes that give your mind a place to wander. The final track, "Existential Angst", is an ethereal close to everything Crystal has performed on the last forty or so minutes of the album. It's incredible how expertly Crystal can pull off an album that exists between two sects of music that seem far off from each other (drone and pop). White Poppy is an album that deserves to be listened to in full and makes me feel both like I'm wandering through a mysterious city at night and exploring the outer edges of space.


Purchase the record from Not Not Fun records here

Written by Emily Thompson