Stream: The Crystal Method “Drown In The Now” (Single Edit)
Durable (and durably dynamic) mainstays of the L.A. party underground, the Crystal Method shot to international stardom in 1997 with Vegas. Dance music and electronica produce a great many ephemeral acts, but Crystal Method’s debut (now platinum and suitably special-editioned last year) placed Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland at a seemingly permanent place at the pinnacle of both genres. Divided by Night is the duo’s first studio album in five years, with scads of guest stars doing cameo appearances within CM’s characteristic dancefloor action adventure sound as it wanders down various dark sonic alleys. The Crystal Method is set to appear at the Electric Daisy Carnival the seriously-tweeky weekend of June 26th and 27th. Meanwhile, Ken Jordan here speaks to Ron Garmon about the real enemy of party people everywhere.
Crystal Method albums tend to have themes, so what’s the premise for Divided by Night?
Ken Jordan: This album is a lot more song oriented—also there’s a lot more singers on it. We’re not generally a lyric-driven band, so the themes are generally carried by the sound.
Which this time out is quite gritty, which is certainly the state of the L.A. underground. Is the dance-dance utopia over?
There’s like an ebb-and-flow going in America and L.A. I think even back in the late 1990s we always knew the scene would return underground after a while and so it has. All over the rest of the world, DJ culture is thriving and we’ve got the Electric Daisy Carnival coming up in L.A., which is gonna be huge. Last year we were there, it was like 70,000 people. There’s little or no crossover action with the mainstream, but DJ culture is still huge, so it’s kinda hard to figure. We don’t consciously try to take the temperature.
I get a lot of warehouse party vibe off this one, like a giant sound compressed into a small space until it detonates.
This one is a little more of a four-on-the-floor—much more than we usually do. It’s more varied and wide-ranging as well.
Any thoughts on the startling survival and mutative capacity of the L.A. underground?
There are a lot of good things still being staged at the Avalon and the Vanguard and elsewhere, but here and other big cities with the pop mash-up sound and the scene—that’s all bottle service and how much you pay. It grew up in nightclubs that had had cool DJs and cool music and the guy who could afford the bottle service couldn’t get in.
Tracks like ‘Dirty Thirty’ and ‘Smile’ are like long trawls through the L.A. nigh— big action-adventure soundtrack grooves with lots of dramatic proggy touches Peter Hook‘s bass gives those tracks a nice horror-movie feel that’s very much sums things up right now.
Oh, yes. His playing is so identifiable it really takes off. All of a sudden, you hear Joy Division and New Order. We didn’t actually work in our studio with all of our collaborators, but with Peter we did. He came by and spent all day working on those two tracks, with all his stories. He’s quite funny.
‘Drown in the Now’ does the big noise/small room trick I mentioned. How did Matisyahu get involved?
Last year we met him at the Pemberton Festival in Canada. We were closing out one of the dance tent on the last night. Earlier in the day, his road manager came around and asked if he could appear with us. He did this kind of singing-rapping thing over ‘High Roller’ off our first album and it was really really something, so we stayed in touch. We do always collaborate on our albums and sometimes the collaborations don’t always work out and never see the light of day, this time they all did.
Tell us about the Method’s new studio digs in NoHo. For years you recorded in the Bomb Shelter in Glendale.
For thirteen years. It was really getting nasty toward the end. We built it by ourselves in a two-car garage. It was just a disaster toward the end. I dreaded going to work every day. Maybe that’s why we have collaborators now!
I last saw you guys at the Obama Art of Change Inauguration party at the Mayan with the Mutaytor.
That came about at the last minute. We put up that free download of ‘Now’s the Time’ where we used Obama samples. It was kind of a nonpartisan incentive to get out the vote, even though we were very much pro-Obama. We got Shepard Fairey to make another version of his famous Obama image, only with the word ‘Now’ instead of ‘Hope.’ My girlfriend, who has this nonprofit, had some other friends who were throwing the event and asked us to play.
You guys sit at the pinnacle of the clubland scene here in Los Angeles. Is there any message you wanna drop from the balcony the dance-dance proletariat?
Yes. Music is not the enemy.
The L.A. County Fire Marshal might beg to differ on that. Who is the enemy?
Bottle service is the enemy.
THE CRYSTAL METHOD WITH PAUL VAN DYK, THIEVERY CORPORATION, PAUL OAKENFOLD, DAEDELUS, MARK FARINA AND MANY MORE ON FRI., JUNE 26, AND SAT., JUNE 27, AT THE ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL AT THE L.A. MEMORIAL COLISEUM AND EXPOSITION PARK, 3939 S. FIGUEROA ST., LOS ANGELES. FRI. 4 PM – 2 AM / SAT. 4 PM – 4 AM / $55-$200 / ALL AGES. THE CRYSTAL METHOD PLAYS SAT., JUNE 27. MORE INFORMATION AND COMPLETE LINE-UP AT ELECTRICDAISYCARNIVAL.COM.