- Artist: The Crystal Method
- Title: Vegas
- Released: 1997
- Format: CD
- Genre: Electronica/Rave/Techno
- Beverage of Choice: Firestone Mind Haze IPA
I was first made aware of The Crystal Method through engaging in an unusual (for me) activity… skydiving. In 1998 I attended a trade conference in Orlando and my much younger colleague suggested we try out a tandem skydive while we were there. The weather was perfect and, in a moment of uncharacteristic impulsiveness, I agreed, as long as he called my wife to let her know of my demise.
Needless to say, I survived the experience, even somewhat enjoyed it after the initial terror dissipated (never did it again BTW). Well, the long story made short is that my friend had the jump videotaped (this being long before smartphones and Instagram) and the soundtrack the studio edited onto the tape was snippets from “Vegas“. Electronica not really being my cup of tea, with metal and rock being preferred at that time, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the music and bought the CD which is the debut studio album the duo produced. It has come to be one of my favorite albums over the years and I find my self listening to it in the car, at the gym, on runs and on the home stereo at odd occasions.
The music is not easy to define in certain terms, being a mash-up of various styles and genres including early trip-hop, rock, rave and psychedelic crossover. The end result is an accessible entry point to a sub-culture that can get extremely dense and impenetrable (unless I’m simply missing the point somewhere). Big beats aplenty but also a consistent attempt at engaging the listener into a musical landscape more interesting than, for example, disco.
The opening track, ‘Trip Like I Do‘, jumps right in with sampled breathy vocals (legend has it from an answering machine message), layers of synth tracks and huge driving beat. If you’re not jumping around (at least metaphorically) by a couple of minutes in, be patient, and the song explodes into true (and now familiar) Crystal Method freak mode. By the end of the track, you’re either a believer or not.
Don’t look for any deep meaning in the lyrics, the occasional drug reference notwithstanding, but that’s not really the point here. It’s the push and pull of the music that’s intoxicating and dangerous leading you to deeper and deeper states of relaxation, shutting out the real world and ultimately (re)connecting mind and body. It’s better to listen to tracks like ‘Busy Child‘, ‘Cherry Twist‘ and “Comin’ Back” while moving; running, cycling, dancing are all good choices. ‘Vapor Trail‘, ‘Jaded‘, ‘Now is the Time’ and ‘Bad Stone‘ are great headphone tunes to simply chill out and listen to; the beats are big and bold but the tempo is less frenetic and provides a breathing space for the music to infiltrate your mind.
In my opinion this album has aged really well and sounds contemporary and timeless, certainly better than most of the commercial dance music pumped out today. Throw the dice and win big by giving this one a spin!