One downside of the hoopla surrounding electronica is the decidedly Eurocentric slant in the mainstream media coverage; despite a legion of native innovators, American judges keep awarding the laurels to Brits and Germans. Since 1994's "Now Is the Time," the Los Angeles team Crystal Method Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland has been unleashing exceptional home-grown beats. Now, with a major-label deal and a music biz that's finally gotten over its "disco sucks" sour grapes, the duo is poised as the United States' Great White Hope in the techno sweepstakes with its first full-length outing.
Vegas (named after Jordan and Kirkland's hometown) includes the club hits "Busy Child," which bustles with three-snaps exhortations to "get busy, child," and the anthemic "Keep Hope Alive," a celebration of the glory days of the Los Angeles rave scene. But the duo also loves to rock. Much like the music of their U.K. peers the Chemical Brothers (who made "Keep Hope Alive" a staple of their DJ sets), the Crystal Method aren't averse to occasionally fusing good old-fashioned guitar licks to their dense mix of funky breaks, distorted beats and escalating keyboard swells.
The album kicks off with "Trip Like I Do," a slow burner that shows off the Method's stylistic versatility. Kirkland and Jordan understand how to construct cuts with the peaks and valleys necessary to keep the dance floor in motion, but they pack them with enough melodic hooks, plus engaging samples and timbres, to withstand repeated listens. Even at their most propulsive, the Crystal Method create dance music that on closer inspection actually improves; the moody "High Roller," peppered with NASA prattle and sealed with a blissful ambient coda, proves especially seductive. The lackluster "Comin' Back" and "Jaded" aside, Vegas makes an exemplary debut. Buy American. (RS 768)
KURT B. REIGHLEY
(Posted: Sep 8, 1997)
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Vegas is one of those albums, by one of those artists (LA DJ's The Cyrstal Method) that you know you just shouldn't like. It's true that almost everything they do is taken from the originators of the break beat style, UK DJ team The Chemical Brothers. Still it's hard to deny borderline copyright infirngment when it's this damn good. After a useless spoken word intro, Trip Like I Do kicks into a brillant club anthem (think Block Rockin' Beats on speed), Busy Child and Cherry Twist follow in the same manner. In a genere based around sampleing other peoples beats and music, this type of derivation is accepted and incouraged and the Crystal's do it better than anyone. The highlight though, is the album's glorious centerpiece, Keep Hope Alive. Over six minutes of pounding beats and snyths that would have sounded right at place during an old shcool Chicago house party.
Jan 14, 2006 00:53:09
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