The Science Group

Spoors

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Those who got hooked by Amy Denio's singing on the Science Group's first album, A Mere Coincidence, may be disappointed at first by Spoors. But the all-instrumental sibling has a lot to offer in terms of complex, rehearsal-heavy avant-prog rock. Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer is still the mastermind of the project, his precise compositions posing a double challenge to rock musicians: the virtuosity, of course, but also the capability of turning these intellectual constructions (very close in form to contemporary music) into a music that conveys the drive of rock & roll. Well, the quartet pulls it off with brio. Helping out the keyboardist are bassist Bob Drake, drummer Chris Cutler, and Thinking Plague leader and guitarist Mike Johnson, whose work here pulls the music even closer to the Plague/5uu's/Motor Totemist Guild axis. The 15 tracks are organized into four loose suites. The three "Timelines" tunes are rather straightforward, lively, and upbeat, bringing to mind the Vril CD simultaneously released on ReR Megacorp and also featuring Cutler and Drake. The "New Indents" suite explores more experimental paths, the tracks disjointing Cutler's drumming (who uses his electrified kit, drums with contact mikes run through effects boxes). In "Dispersant," Tickmayer literally disperses his keyboard chords, the music all but evaporating in front of your ears. The "2 Bagatelles" come back to a certain playfulness, this time through the use of many samples and a circus-like bombast that has Drake jumping through hoops. The concluding "Old and New Paths" proposes the most "avant-prog" music of the set: dark, angular, very complex yet definitely rock. Spoors requires a few listens to get into, but it rewards -- and to those who were starting to ask if Cutler would ever come back to rock music, it offers a resounding affirmative answer.

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