L.A.'s 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 the group distinct: a solid base in American hip-hop, rock, soul, and pop. Formed in 1993 by Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland, Crystal Method was the longest-running stop in a string of projects that led them from their native Las Vegas (and some forgettable four-track stabs at vocal house music), to the early-'90s L.A. 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, 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 the endless barrage of remixes and alternate versions that appeared.
The pair's demand to be taken seriously as a band (as opposed to the enforced anonymity of most techno acts, and something of a new concept for American dance producers) extended to incessant live performances, and Crystal Method's increasing popularity both in the clubs and among radio jocks led to a deal with Geffen affiliate Outpost Recordings in 1996. The group's debut LP, Vegas -- an unabashed party record bathed in acid, funk, rock, and big beat hip-hop -- appeared in mid-1997 and sold very well. The follow-up Tweekend was released four years later, and the duo inaugurated a series of mix albums, titled Community Service, in 2002. Third album Legion of Boom followed in 2004, and their soundtrack to the film London landed a year later. In 2006 they teamed with iTunes for an exclusive release titled Drive. The mix was made to accompany any aspiring athlete's workout session and was re-released on CD in 2008 with four bonus tracks. In 2009, they released Divided by Night, the first album to be recorded at the duo's state-of-the-art recording studio, Crystalwerks. A self-titled, fan-funded album -- one that embraced their role in the development of EDM -- arrived in 2014. ~ Sean Cooper
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