The Crystal Method: Divided by None

The duo returns with a fresh new smash-up.

An overabundance of collaborations can sometimes fracture the cohesion of a band's sound. The base fissures, the framework wobbles, and before you know it the weight of all those competing voices sends the whole structure to the ground in a cloud of confusion. Not so with electronic duo the Crystal Method's latest album, Divided by Night, released May 12 on Tiny e Records.Although veteran DJs/producers Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland cut their teeth working L.A.'s feral early-to-mid-'90s rave circuit,and later inched toward icon status with 1997's best-selling debut full-length Vegas (it sold nearly a million copies, a still-uncommon feat in electronic music), the duo never relied on one sound.Beginning with their second disc, 2001's Tweekend, Jordan and Kirkland started using collaborators, tapping rockers such as Tom Morello and Scott Weiland. Later the Method made forays into hip-hop, enlisting Rahzel and DJ Swamp on their follow-up, Legion of Boom. As Kirkland rightly notes in our interview below, Divided by Night, their fourth disc, is the successful culmination of these disparate experiences and experiments.The album features a platoon of genre-spanning collaborators, including Hasidic reggae rapper Matisyahu, New Order bassist Peter Hook, LMFAO, and indie-minded singer-songwriter Meiko, among others. All these styles threaten to shatter the disc's aural identity. But through carefully calibrated transitions, Jordan and Kirkland slide each track into the next like bullets loaded into the chamber of an automatic rifle.We reached a groggy but lucid Kirkland in a Cleveland hotel room, and talked via phone about why the duo hadn't toured in five years, how they juggled so many disparate artists, and getting inspired at 20,000 feet.SW: Why the long hiatus between performances?Kirkland: We took some time to find a studio. It took two years from the time I think we signed the papers to the time we moved in. [Then] there was another two years of working on the album. While the new studio was being built, we did some other things. But for our next studio album, we wanted to be in our new studio. We wanted to have a little jolt of energy and creativity that we knew getting out of the old place would bring.You have a lot of single-ready tunes on Divided by Night. Were you thinking about the album as a whole and how it progresses?We always try to get something that you can listen to from beginning to end. We know in today's iPod culture that you can have a little bit more diverse collaborative effort on an album. But we still want someone to listen to it from beginning to end, and have that common thread that weaves through the songs and binds everything together. We really took the time to explore each song. And in the past, especially on our last album, we kinda felt the rush of getting the last album out. The lack of pure creative energy in that last building really led us to cut corners and not follow the songs to their natural conclusion.There are a lot of different moods evoked on the album. But "Sine Language" [featuring LMFAO] is a standout. It's just a helluva lot of fun. What was going on there?LMFAO [is] very pop and playful. Their music tends to be upbeat and kind of electro-y. I like the idea of getting that energy and putting it into more of a darker, more aggressive track. Tone-wise, it was a lot different from everything they'd worked on. But they fell right into it. When they're not on the track, [the beat] kinda fights back and takes over.What was your concept for the title?We were on a flight from Denver to El Paso. We were in the middle of a real stressful time, doing these shows [then] going back and working in the studio. And I just had my second child. We were 20,000 feet in the air, coming in over El Paso, and you could tell night had fallen over the city. And then above you could see the stars in the sky, and then out to the west this beautiful ribbon of oranges and yellows and reds. I had this thought of my family back home. And it just popped in my head that we were divided by night.How does this album fit into your repertoire?I hope it's the beginning of the next stage of our career. Vegas...reflected the time that we made that record—the thriving rave scene and club scene. Tweekend was the touring for pretty much three years...and doing all these rock festivals. Legion of Boom [was] another effort [to] expand our sound and work with different people. And Divided by Night is bringing all those worlds together, and showing a little bit more musicality, and spending a little bit more time on the songwriting and the crafting of sounds, rather than the beats and the rhythms and bass lines and stuff that we had done on the last album. This one is a record that I'm really proud of. Sometimes it surprises me. It's just a real step forward for us. Hopefully, people will find something in it that they like.feedback@seattleweekly.com

 
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