Vegas is a great album to listen to if you are at all interested in electronic music. Released in 1998 by the Crystal Method, Vegas has helped secure electronic music a place in pop culture today.
Crystal Method's music is rich, and complex, and not some random techno with inane beats and noises. Starting from scratch with a simple melody, or a theme, or whatever Ken Jordan, and Scott Kirkland--the Method men--find interesting, they build music around it by layering sound samples, and drums until they achieve a level of desired perfectness.
The drum samples are key to most of their tracks. The Crystal Method appears to favor regular sounding drums, like those found in rock and roll bands everywhere, as their core type of drum sample. Not too much bass is used on most of the tracks, and that leads to a more techno, more dance sound rather than fat block rocking beats like those found in their later album, "Tweekend", another Crystal Method success.
Right off the bat on their first track, Trip Like I Do the listener is in for some ride. It begins with a narration from the movie "Dark Crystal", "Another world, Another time. In the Age of Wonder… Another world, another time, this land was green and good until the Crystal cracked… Once more they will replenish themselves… Cheat death again… The power of their source… the Crystal. The crystal... (echoing)." In the background, dark futuristic noises, and the sounds of machinery whirling up help convey a sense of ominous suspense. As the old man finishes his narration, drums begin slowly. A woman can be heard whispering, "Oh my god! Oh my god!" Then the track explodes in full electronic fury with futuristic, edgy--laser beam sounding--guitar riffs; there are exploding/screeching sounds, and other dark noises. What a great track, and a great start to Vegas.
After seven minutes, the track ends, and listeners will notice there is no smooth transition between songs on "Vegas". The album is not a dance mix featuring hours of seamless music. Each track brings something new.
Vegas' second track, Busy Child is a high-energy dance tune featuring drums and what sounds like pogo sticks. Sparse sounding drums, and electronic flatulent noises begin the track, but it quickly escalates when a voice is heard repeating, "I guess I didn't know." The song was once used in a GAP's khaki commercial, which begs the question, why would GAP even do that? "Busy Child", the title, reminds one of all the third world sweatshops GAP is accused of buying its clothes from. Busy children everywhere sweating for less than a dollar a day. The voice in the song repeats, "Get busy now!" Then weird pogo sounds start jumping around with drums laying down a cool electronic dance beat. Toward the end, the voice keeps repeating, "I guess I didn't know." Yeah sure, GAP knew.
I think one of the best tracks on Vegas is High Roller, music capturing both the loneliness, and the excitement of outer space. The track was also used in a Mazda Miata commercial, you probably have heard of it. The track begins with the narration, "This transmission is coming to you." along with other snippets of conversation between astronauts, and ground control. Pulsing, and reverberating sounds convey the sense of outer space, and drums are kept a slow, and stately pace. Along the way, a few edgy guitar riffs are thrown in for some excitement before the piece quiets to a trance-like minute of deep space silence replete with ghostly sounding echoes, and electronic soft crickets noises.
The other songs on the album are quite interesting, and thrilling to listen to. Trixy Reiss also lends ethereal sounding vocals to some of the tracks, such as Comin' Back.
After a good listen, the album ends with the tranquil sounds of Bad Stone, a slow trace-like track with a hypnotic, almost pulsating bass line. The music feels mysterious and dream-like. Occasionally drums come in accompanied by a nice piano-sounding melody played on synthesizer. It is a good end to a great album.
01 Trip Like I Do
02 Busy Child
03 Cherry Twist
04 High Roller
05 Comin' Back
06 Keep Hope Alive
07 Vapor Trail
08 She's My Pusher
10 Now Is the Time
11 Bad Stone
12 Can't You Trip Like I Do