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(Before we dive in, let me set your expectations for “Media Wednesday” articles. On Wednesdays I’ll be exploring the world of media – books, movies, music, art, you name it – and talk about why I enjoy it, why you may enjoy it, and maybe share some neat trivia along the way. This is not meant to be a formal review, but instead a chance to share some neat things with you.)

The Crystal Method

It makes sense that our first “Media Wednesday” article should focus on The Crystal Method. The electronica group holds a special place in my heart from back in my high school days. Their CDs were among the first in my collection (which remains small to this day). If I had to estimate, I would say that I have listened to their albums several dozen times – each.

Let’s start with the most common misconception – the name has nothing to do with drugs. In fact, when asked about the name, the founders of the group told a story from their days as small-time producers in LA. A person, named Crystal, handled transportation for one of their clients. The client would say, when asked, that they got around using “The Crystal Method”. The name stuck.

I’m very sentimental when it comes to music. My mother was an accomplished pianist and music teacher. My father had been in the high school band (brass) and later learned how to play the guitar. Between my parents, a love of music ran very deep. I’m not ashamed to say that I never inherited the “musical ability” gene (my sisters and brother got that). What I got, though, was the “musical ear” gene instead. As a result, I associate music with people, places, and events in my life.

1999 was a very turbulent time for me. I was attending a boarding school for gifted/talented high school juniors and seniors. My family was several hundred miles away from me. Up to this point in my life I’d been very sheltered and introverted. Now, for the first time, I was encountering others who were smart – much smarter than me – and doing so outside my comfort zone.

Not long after my arrival I chanced upon some students in their room, door open, playing on their Playstation. The game they were playing was Final Fantasy 7. It had been out for a little over two years at that point. Rather than listen to the in-game music, they’d opted for their own soundtrack over the stereo system of their room. The music seemed appropriate for the battle they were engaged in. They had just summoned Shiva into the fight. The song playing as Shiva appeared? Keep Hope Alive, by The Crystal Method.

(For those interested in hearing the song, you can venture here to check it out on Youtube)

Needless to say, the sound of that music combined with the battle they were fighting left me in awe.

A little while later I discovered who the group was. Unfortunately, the local CD shop did not have their album in stock. It wasn’t until I had graduated that I was able to find their second album, Tweekend. It and their third, Legion of Boom still sit on my CD racks today.

What do I enjoy about The Crystal Method so much that makes me come back to listen to their albums over and over (besides nostalgia)? Each of their first four albums have had a different feel to them. Much of their songs are upbeat and your toe is tapping in time to the rhythm of the music. Even the slower songs feel like they have a place in the album. The sound of each album is also unique. Synths combine with guitars to do things that you wouldn’t have thought possible. The vocals, when there are vocals, are also very on point.

Is this music that everyone will enjoy? Probably not. My “friends” in high school who got me into this music were a little more on the hardcore side of life and they liked their metal heavy. But I’m not a heavy metal fan, and my interests span nearly every musical genre there is. If you’re looking for something to listen to, give one of The Crystal Method’s first four albums a try. See what you think.

Martin Media Wednesday

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