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The Crystal Method plays at Agave on Friday

The Crystal Methods became pioneers of the big beat genre.
Special to the Daily

During their mid-’90s ascent, the Crystal Method were referred to as America’s answer to the Chemical Brothers. A dance-based electronic duo with a definite rock-band feel, the comparison seemed appropriate, although it tended to erase what made Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland‘s output distinct: a solid base in American hip-hop, rock, soul and pop.

The Crystal Method plays at Agave in Avon on Friday, March 13. The show starts at 10:30 p.m., and tickets are $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the show.

Unwitting participants in the commercial rise of big beat, the Crystal Method broke through with “Keep Hope Alive” (1995), a Top 15 U.S. club hit, and continued upward with “Vegas” (1997), their platinum debut album. By distancing themselves from big beat and selecting collaborators from across a broad stylistic spectrum, they continued to thrive with studio albums such as “Legion of Boom” (2004) and “Divided by Night” (2009), both of which were nominated for dance/electronic Grammy awards. At the same time, they diversified with soundtracks for video games and films.

Formed in 1993 by Ken Jordan and Scott Kirklandthe Crystal Method became the longest-running stop in a string of projects that led the producers from their native Las Vegas — where they had made some four-track stabs at vocal house music — to the early-’90s Los Angeles rave scene. Drawn in by its youthful idealism, Jordan and Kirkland became absorbed by L.A.’s underground club culture and began knocking out tracks inspired by their experiences.

On the strength of one of their demos, the Crystal Method signed to Steve Melrose and Justin King‘s City of Angels imprint in 1994, and their debut single, “Keep Hope Alive,” appeared soon after. The title was in reference to L.A.’s waning rave scene — burdened by constant police pressure and a string of random violent incidents — and became something of an anthem due to a barrage of remixes and alternate versions that appeared. In the U.S., “Keep Hope Alive” reached number 14 on the Billboard club chart, and in the U.K. it dented the pop chart at number 71.

The pair’s demand to be taken seriously as a band, as opposed to the enforced anonymity of most techno acts, is something of a new concept for American dance producers. Jordan and Kirkland‘s increasing popularity both in the clubs and among radio jocks led to a deal with Geffen affiliate Out Post Recordings in 1996. The group’s debut LP, “Vegas,” appeared in August 1997. An unabashed party record bathed in acid, funk, rock and big-beat hip-hop, it peaked at number 92 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold in 1998, propelled by the number one Billboard club hit “Comin’ Back.” (A tenth-anniversary deluxe edition later pushed the album into platinum status.) Also in 1998, the producers diversified with the soundtrack for the video game N2O: Nitrous Oxide.


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