|The Crystal Method - Legion of Boom|
|Music Disc Reviews DVD-Audio|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Tuesday, 03 August 2004|
So you’ve invested in a DVD-Audio capable system complete with a discrete connection (all six cables), a new preamp, a big tight sub and even some capable rear speakers – but your life is somehow still not complete. It doesn’t take too many trips to Amazon.com or the local Tower Records to realize that there just aren’t that many great-sounding titles mixed for DVD-Audio or SACD that really put your system to the test. Sure, there is Dark Side of the Moon on SACD, Yes’ Fragile on DVD-Audio and a good number of other discs, but on a week in and week out basis, a disc that can really light up your system is hard to come by. The Crystal Method’s Legion of Boom need to immediately get added to that short list of great-sounding discs.
Mixed by Fred Maher in 6.1 for DTS Entertainment, this disc is a showpiece of the surround sound mastery that the DTS guys can achieve. First off, the music of The Crystal Method is absolutely perfect for surround sound. The people behind the Method are Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland and their sound is hard-hitting electronica. Their tracks are nouveau sonic adventures that are heavy on good-sounding but electronically enhanced bass, along with seemingly unlimited samples, sounds and musical layers. Unlike some audiophile blues recording designed for Baby Boomers to imagine “they are in the room” with the performers, Legion of Boom makes you imagine you headed somewhere in space and you are going there FAST.
Home theater enthusiasts might find it ironic that track 5, “I Know It’s You,” features vocals from actress Milla Jovovich, who is the star of one of the most famous DVD-Video demos in the film “The Fifth Element.” “I Know It’s You” is built on deep powerful bass with swirling effects and Bjork-like vocal segments from Jovovich. The overall mix of the track is liquid and smooth, which is part of the advantage of the vast bandwidth of the DVD-Audio format when playing back a well-made modern recording. The bass is insanely low. My Revel Sub 30 woofer rocked so hard on this cut I couldn’t believe it. But this is not the kind of bass you’d hear from a lowered Escalade cruising Crenshaw Blvd. This is low, electronic bass. When played back on a well-tuned system, you can hit depths you might have never seen, heard or felt before.
The lead track “Starting Over” takes its time to get rolling, but quickly builds into a progressively intense groove. Characteristic of an album entitled Legion of Boom, “Starting Over” goes deep with the bass in ways only a computer can. The track develops over the course of a few minutes and serves as a compelling introduction to the computerized ways of The Crystal Method for those who might not have heard them before.
“Born Too Slow” is the single from the album and, while it is unlikely that you have heard it on some soul-less FM radio station these days, this track has a catchy hook that is worthy of airplay. “Born Too Slow” features more of a traditional vocal performance, as opposed to the Method’s method of layering bits and pieces of vocals for many of their tracks. Critically, the song is quick to get to the catchy chorus and doesn’t have a whole lot to say in between the hooks. If you are looking for the next Bob Dylan or John Lennon in terms of songwriting, you’ve come to the wrong place. The Crystal Method are about a sonic formula that hits hard and keeps the groove groovy. That is their method and it works really well for DVD-Audio in 6.1 surround.
Legion of Boom is a relatively long album and with the exception of “The American Way” there are few stinkers on the record. It is recorded fantastically and is mixed aggressively for surround sound, which will be the main reason why you will love the record. Added values on the disc abound including a 5.1 mix (24 bit, 48 kHz), a 6.1 DTS ES mix (24 bit, 48 kHz) and a 16-bit stereo mix. Sorry, audiophiles, there is no 24/96 stereo track on this disc (hint: it’s getting to be time to buy a surround system for music playback). There are other video goodies like the “Born Too Slow” music video in 16:9, a making-of video in DTS surround and more. You get a lot for your money with this disc, but most importantly, you get a disc that can give your high-performance music and theater system a workout in a way that shows you all the justification you ever needed for investing so much money on your music playback system.