Sat July 26
Since the summer heat is now officially a sweaty pain in the ass, perhaps it's time to drop the party rock and get your head right with a more sublime musical narcotic. The Dead Science's jazz-tinged ambient rock is the perfect impetus for a mid-summer night's cerebral voyage.
Formerly the Sweet Science, the trio's sound is appropriate to their hometown of Seattle's geographic complexities. Their variable energies and dynamics roll in like billowy Pacific fronts while the haunting vocals and shuffling rhythms can arrive equally from the murky bottom of Puget Sound or the bright top of Mt. Rainer.
Their sound is created on contra (upright) bass, guitar, trap set, and the occasional violin and cello (on recordings, at least), but the trio can sound like an orchestra. Vocals come predominantly from guitarist Sam Mickens, whose tenor understandably garners comparisons to jazz great Chet Baker and some guy named Thom Yorke.
Elements of experimentation and improvisation are apparent in their sound. Mickens and bassist/vocalist Jherek Bischoff are also members of Seattle improv freaks the Degenerate Art Ensemble and moonlight as the current rhythm section for Xiu Xiu.
Along with percussionist Korum Bischoff, these scientists have found time to record a captivating album, Submariner. Swinging drums, often played with mallets, provide backbone for its tracks and the rich, frequently bowed tones that can only be created by an upright bass are both fore and background for the rarely distorted guitar.
Most songs simmer seductively along, and as rock songs should, many build to a satisfying boil. Micken's sublime, drawn out lyrics about ships at sea, lost love, and bodies buried in Mississippi mud complement the movement of the music and prove that this is a band to which attention must be paid.
Amid a sea of the usual bland background rock to drink and blather over, The Dead Science offer intense, interesting, and cerebral music for some focused escapism.