Artist: APSCITitle: Thanks For AskingRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Clover Hope
Apsci (Applied Science) might be a bit ahead of their time—about 2000 years to be exact. On their debut album, Thanks for Asking (Quannum), the Australian singer Dana Diaz-Tutaan and her Bronx-born MC husband Raphael LaMotta (Ra) rely more on computerized and live instrumentation than the usual beat-16 bar combo. Melding rock, hip-hop, and jazz among other genres, the musical duo opts for chanting over singing, erratic lyrics, and synthesizer-heavy, trance-like beats. The outcome is a conceptual yet unorganized 16-track set.
Though Apsci’s pulsating rhythms often employ those warped, futuristic sounds you never use on your keyboard, their unapologetically subversive style is appreciated, and Dana’s soaring voice is mesmerizing. On “Rob the Bank,” she seductively sings, “Blushing doesn’t mean I’m shy.” This standout track unites the couple’s best assets, as Ra rhymes with flair and Dana vocalizes her sensuality to a fittingly hurried tempo. In “Runaway,” her soprano vocals also correspond well with the discrete piano-infused rhythm, and the two rock a robotic, staccato flow on the abbreviated “Voice Print Identification.”
While the opera-esque “Never Give Up” showcases Dana’s far-ranging vocals, Ra demonstrates his own lyrical versatility on “Anais & Godzilla,” deftly channeling Eminem’s swift flow at times, though his thoughtful lyrics would fair better under superior production.
In all, abstract can be good if it’s focused and well-arranged, but Apsci needs a little more direction and cohesiveness. Some may consider their music just noise and words. But similar to abstract art, Apsci is actually comprehensible to those crazy enough to understand their creative direction and spacious exploration. So maybe it is just art.