Listeners who have grown accustomed to Edward Ka-Spel's characteristically psychedelic and cryptic lyrics may initially find themselves disappointed in the songwriting on Crystal Mass. While traces of psychedelia are still evident on a track like "Castaway," Ka-Spel's narratives on this album are much less abstruse, and at first may even seem prosaic. However simple Ka-Spel's storytelling may seem on this release, his metaphors and conceits remain powerful and poignant as they return obsessively to careful meditations on blind faith and vulnerability, and resolve themselves as often into paranoia as they do into melancholic resignation. Beneath Ka-Spel's pensive lyrics and entrancing voice, cEvin Key and Ka-Spel's bandmates from the Legendary Pink Dots provide diverse and often contradictory musical themes, including chilling country & western riffs, electronic interference, industrial noise, retro synth-pop, and acoustic folk. Outstanding production seamlessly weaves these themes together; the result is an album with so many musical and narrative levels that it provides fresh rewards with every listen. Though seasoned listeners may initially be disappointed by this effort, less oblique lyrics and musical themes make Crystal Mass an outstanding introduction for those new to the Tear Garden.
AllMusic Review by Rich Goldman