Record Review - 2 August 14 2002

Few late-’90s “electronica revolution” acts introduced more people to the American dance music community than The Crystal Method, who set the stage for the ubiquitous commercial exposure Moby would achieve. Now breakbeat duo Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland “give something back” with their first mix CD, Community Service, a collection of nimble, populist nü_skool pump.

Built on the wide emotional range of the breakbeat, Community Service opens with a series of nü_skool tracks, drawing on the trademark pristine, techno-influenced drum programming that’s almost flat, always full, yet never heavy-handed. The sound is edgy without being gritty as it builds through tracks by ILS, Evil 9, Stir Fry and Koma + Bones.

Between Koma + Bones and the Plump DJ’s mix of Orbital’s “Funny Break,” scratchy layers begin to bubble, leading into a second phase overwhelmed by remixes and resonance tweaks, as the squelch and squeal of The Crystal Method’s trademark ramping rumble steamrolls across P.O.D., Rage Against the Machine, Garbage and a track from the duo itself. Through it all, ambiance builds like an air raid.

Finally, the clatter crests, and the third phase — with its underlying electro and acid-house influences — closes the (head) trip, culminating in Scratch-D vs. H-Bomb’s buzzsaw “The Red Pill.” While the overall vibe will pose little surprise to fans of DJ/producers like Adam Freeland, Rennie Pilgrem and Freq Nasty, the well-executed transitions do build a sense of community, and may reintroduce The Method to an underground dance community weaned on imports.The Crystal Method spins at eleven50 Sat., Aug. 17.