The Crystal Method Album Breaks Down First LP As Solo Artist, 'The Trip Home': Exclusive

Graham John Bell
The Crystal Method

Las Vegas duo The Crystal Method has been a staple of the electronic music scene since it burst onto the scene with 1997's memorable classic Vegas. Hits "Busy Child" and "Comin' Back" are still monsters, ready to blast a club crowd in the face with flavor. It's been more than 20 years of boom, and now The Crystal Method is back to prove it hasn't lost an ounce of its adventurous sound - even if it's now down to a solo act.

Ken Jordan officially retired from the music game in 2016, but his partner Scott Kirkland didn't lose step. He got right back into the studio, put his head down, and continued the sonic saga of the dance behemoth. The result is the 11-track album The Trip Home.

The act's signature acid-electro style is still on full display. Metal elements merge with industrial techno to create a warehouse rave in the mind. It's theatrical and steamy, beautiful but haunting. There's something decidedly sci-fi about it and otherworldly. In that sense, The Crystal Method has not changed. Billboard Dance caught up with Kirkland to talk about the journey, which actually involved a lot of cool friends along the way. It may be his first solo record, but he didn't have to make it alone.

Learn the back story of The Trip Home below.

“The Raze” Feat. Le Castle Vania
More metal than EDM, this combustible track was born out of an inspired demo from Dylan Eiland, aka Le Castle Vania. “The Raze” (meaning to destroy to the ground, to demolish and to build back again) features the very talented Tony Buchen playing bass through my vintage Electro Harmonix Bass Micro Synthesizer pedal. The OB-6 from legends Dave Smith and Tom Oberheim screams for attention, and my mate Glen Nicholls (co-producer and co-mixer of The Trip Home) helps me bring down the hammer and kick off.

“Holy Arp”
This was the first track I wrote after Ken’s departure back in 2016. “Holy Arp’s” brooding downtempo groove came from one of my favorite synths, the Arp 2600 and 1621 Arp Sequencer. Co-produced with my mate Glen Nicholls, Holy Arp features Jimmie “the Dynamic” Wood on harmonica and vocals. 

“Moment Of Truth”
Glen and I sourced the propulsive bass from my Memory Moog, and many of the synths sounds are from my favorite iOS app Virsyn’s Cube. Wanting to capture the energy of one of my favorite LA clubs from the early 90’s, Truth, the propulsive beats and driving synths capture the euphoric feeling of a Michael Cook set at the Park Palace. The track really opens up at 1:45 when the groove drops out and a soft palette of synths and strings allows the track and the listener to breath. Long-time collaborator Tobias Enhus adds organic and synthetic elements to bring the energy to a boil. 

“Ghost In The City” Feat. Le Castle Vania, Amy Kirkpatrick
Dylan (LCV) played me a short demo of “Ghost” that he and Toronto artist Amy Kirkpatrick had started on a few years back. Being that Dylan’s studio is only about 50 feet from mine, I must have heard them working on it through the walls, because I felt an immediate connection to the it. I visualized our spirited protagonists journey through turmoil, confusion, elation and the inevitability. Amy’s stacked harmony and wistful voice are lifted and carried forward by the formidable Prophet 6; finally breaking free of structure and order, and calmly dissolving into the ether of time.

“Turbulence”
Another stellar collaboration with my mate Glen, the intro of “Turbulence” features one of my favorite synths, the Roland Jupiter 6. (It's) fed through a few of the original Moogerfooger pedals and sounds like 7 million pounds of angry hornets lifting into space. The beat is nasty, the grove is relentless, and when everything drops out, we wanted it (to feel) like the tranquility of ambient space.   

“Carry-On”
The last track added to The Trip Home came from an outtake from a scoring session. After Tobias added a bit of magic, "Carry-On" evokes a feeling of movement and is a lovely transition track between “Turbulence” and “The Drive Inside.”
 
“The Drive Inside”
This songs all about starting over, grinding it out, overcoming doubt and finding the internal drive to push on and move forward. Glen added a bit of cheeky bass and New Order inspired guitars. “The Drive Inside” is one my favorite tracks on the new album. It’s also a reminder to jettison negativity from your life and to nurture creativity and kindness. As “The Drive Inside” drifts away the reward for all the hard work begins as “Chapter One” fades in.
 
“Chapter One” Feat. Teflon Sega
This is collaboration that Tobias Enhus and I started at the beginning of 2017. Featuring the awesome Teflon Sega on vocals, “Chapter One” is cinematic, and I dare say a bit stunning. 
 
“Cabin Pressure” Feat. Matt Lange, Justin Chancellor
Matt Lange brought his impressive euro-rack setup over to Crystalwerks one week in 2017. After exchanging Pro Tools sessions with Matt and a late night bass session with my mate Justin Chancellor, “Cabin Pressure” quickly evolved into one of my favorites from The Trip Home. Check out the frantic Jupiter 4 arpeggio, bunker busting breakbeat, and be sure to take a deep breath when the chaos gives way to emotive Prophet 6 chords and JC’s patient chords. 
 
“There’s A Difference” Feat. Franky Perez
Bringing only the vocals and wailing guitars (by Jeff Caldwell) forward from a track called “Difference” on the last TCM album, Franky Perez’s compelling narrative of dependency and hope has been re-imagined. Inspired by Franky Perez’s gritty vocal, “TAD” evolved from a demo Glen created. As soon as we added bass (Tony Butchen) and drums ( Matt Chamberlain), “TAD” began to bloom out of the shadow of its former self ("Difference"). TAD is dedicated to all those who continue to fight and battle addiction because “Old Bad Habits Are Hard To Break but There’s Something Good In The Distance And It’s Different.”
 
“Hold On To Something” Feat. Teflon Sega, Delilah Paz
Distance, both real and imagined, is a major theme of The Trip Home. Teflon Sega sets the tone with another stunning performance that plays off the lyric in the track "Chapter One:" “If I never make it back to you/ Maybe you can come looking for me." As the track evolves and Teflon Sega’s voice begins to drift away, the mood lifts when we here the stirring and commanding voice of Delila Paz (The Last Internationale). Delila’s voice is authentic and distinctive as she delivers lyrics of hope and empathy, while imploring anyone who’s feeling lost to hold on… because she’s going to take us home.
 
“Lets Go Home”
Tobias Enhus and I have had this beautiful tune on the rack for the while. Initially, we thought about adding a vocal, but I’m so happy we left it as an instrumental. “Lets Go Home” is mid-tempo mood lifter and the perfect finale for The Trip Home.


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