Citrine is a crystal that supposedly brings success, happiness, good luck, and joy. It is sometimes said that both creativity and imagination can be awakened by it’s frequency, and that the crystal’s properties can help to transform one’s dreams and wishes into tangible form. Whether a simple stone having such special properties is something you believe in or not, it is undeniable that the music of Baltimore dream-pop trio and namesake is imbued with exactly these powers. The dreamy textures, crackling drum layers, and sweet melodies crafted by Citrine members Kelci Smith (vocals/synths), Galen Smith (guitar), and Beau Cole (drums) into a sort of musical fizzy-lifting drink that won’t earn you a scolding from Willie Wonka (quite the opposite actually).
Hearing them spin their dreamy web of synth-heavy pop, you might never guess that Kelci and Galen had spent years playing folk music in the band Kindlewood before moving in a totally new direction. Shedding the folk world of flannel and long beards, Citrine emerged hip and sleek with an energized electric-sound (and a guitarist sporting the sweetest floral shirt this engineer has ever seen). The influence that vocalist Kelci Smith draws from artists like Portishead‘s Beth Gibbons and Talking Heads is obviously present when she performs and her voice seems to be calling across space and time from a different, more ethereal place. As Galen’s guitar sends tremolos and dotted 8th arpeggios echoing out into the air, Beau and Kelci make the rhythms and melodies that drive the music forward, and the manic-synth machine chugs-away alongside them.
The most striking presence in the room might actually be a two-tier, synth-laden behemoth of a synth rig, looking like a machine just escaped from a Thomas Dolby music video. Constructed by drummer/synth guru Beau Cole (you might remember Beau from Lands & Peoples), the synth rig is impressive not only in the array of modern-classics it includes (Roland TR-8 drum machine and TB-3 Bass Synth, Novation Bass Station and MiniNova, TC Helicon Vocal Processor, and a laptop running Ableton Live), but in the way the ensemble sits on two custom-equipped shelves and is so wired-together that it seems to run itself. With a single command from Ableton, Kelci can call the whole ensemble together and set their colorful LED’s blinking as they emit a volley of drum patterns, bass-lines, melodies and pads. The sort of cohesion between the small army of synths is a telling metaphor for the way in which trio members unite onstage. Their skill as musicians is immediately obvious when they play and while still sounding free and creative, you can tell that they’ve rehearsed a lot. Their performance is locked down tight and together they seemed to be in control of not only the music, the room, or the entire night- but of time and space themselves.
Let yourself be caught up in Citrine’s fizzy, bubbling pop, let yourself be caught in their web and carried away to an ethereal world of shimmering reverb and sparkling 808’s. This microshow will be the best dream you’ve had in a while. [Matthew Sullivan]