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The Crystal Method
For those wishing to hear breakbeat, listening to mainstream offerings can mean staring at a looming wall of equipment and lights a la the Chemical Brothers -- or, worse yet, the sorry spectacle that is Prodigy's Keith Flint. Either way, it's easy to lose sight of facts in the shadow of these titans of electronica. Namely, that the creators of breakbeat are DJs, and hence better heard than seen, without a stage, nestled deep in a club. One way to experience good homespun breakbeat without the arena rock bullshit is to catch DJs Ken Jacob and Scott Kirkland, better known as the Crystal Method. Their latest release, Keep Hope Alive, on L.A.'s City of Angels label, consists of four songs and three remixes of solid breakbeat. The Crystal Method present an ongoing contrast with soulful highs and hard-edged lows. The highs are like those heard in house, replete with oscillating samples, loops, and abrupt, quiet breaks. This approach to breakbeat has garnered the duo not only well-earned praise, but a reputation as America's answer to the Chemicals. Both the Crystal Method and their English brethren spin big, chunky beats at speeds that would tire even Richard Simmons, while still keeping it immersed within a groove. The Crystal Method, however, offer one advantage over the Chem Bros: little notoriety. While the Crystal Method may strive to gain notoriety, being out of the mainstream means small clubs, no rock stars, and a lot more fun for the listener. Don't expect this to last too long, with Live 105 lying in wait to fill slots for the next BFD show. For now, catch the Crystal Method while their groove's on and their stage presence is irrelevant.

-- Robert Arriaga

The Crystal Method play Saturday, Aug. 2, at 11 p.m. at the Juggernaut Festival, held at the Warehouse, 691 85th St. (at Baldwin), in Oakland. DJs Derrik May, Tim Taylor, and Saul Kane also perform. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door; call 273-1622.

 
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