Wednesday, 7 October 2020

The Crystal Method "Vegas" (1997)


Early on this year I had a mini nostalgia trip into the late nineties sound of Big Beat. Led by some good old Fatboy Slim, I decided to pick up a few notable records of the genre and chuck them on my phone to enjoy at a later date. Well once again the power of shuffle and unaware listening had another "whats this?" moment as the music in the background unsuspectingly revealed its secrets. Since then this platinum selling album has been on constant rotation! Vegas is the debut record by this American duo, hailed as being pioneers of the then emerging Big Beat sound.

One thing that really sets itself in stone is the deep club vibes that emerge in its repetitions. A dense arrangements of percussion and electronic futurism sounds oscillate with a perpetual drive one can move too. Its twelve songs motion through indulgence, droning with power as its loud drum grooves fuse a night life journey atmosphere. At around six minutes each, every song feels strangely monotonous yet engaging as the core identity rarely shifts. Instead the many layers of jilted percussion, cyber synths and theme building sampling swap their groupings, never seeming to repeat a string of arrangements. These are well interwoven songs.

Vegas has a small stake in many of the electronic genres, one can hear anything from Industrial to Rave in fractions. It has the hallmarks of the nineteens Dance sounds. Drop outs, ramped back up by fastening snare rolls a notable cliche not overplayed here. The perpetual unraveling of its moog synths give me an unusual familiarity to that of Carbon Based Lifeforms. A possible influence on the duo? A stand out track is the closing Trip Like I Do remix with Industrial Rock outfit Filler. The thick wall of crunchy distortion guitars slip in well to dial up the temperament. Richard Patrick's audible shouts resonate a lot like Trent of Nine Inch Nails.

This record is so succinctly late nineties you could pair it with many cultural artifacts of the time. As a Big Beat record it feels like that's just an aspect of its sound. The drums are ever present, bold and loud with a snappy tightness but don't end up the sole focal point. Its arsenal of buzz saws and oscillated synth tones are nostalgic, many designs of which Ive heard on other records back when the technology was more contained. Its just been one of those albums to slip right into a cozy place. I will no doubt return to it often in the years to come, its vibe is just right for me!

Rating: 7/10