Art vs. Science

The Experiment

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In a word, obnoxious. At least this is the vibe Art Versus Science go for on The Experiment, and they fully succeed in achieving it, leaving it to the audience to decide whether that's a good thing or a bad thing (it's actually both). They're a dance band, but their idea of dance music is anything that makes that booty shake, and so they throw in live drums, funky basslines, and scratchy guitar hooks right next to ethereal synths, video game soundtrack squeaks, MC Hammer-style rapping, and streamlined loops, mixing rock and electronica with the careless grace of a party animal washing down that beer with a shot of whiskey. It's much more effective, though, because the beats are repetitive and the sound is loud and in your face -- they basically take one toe-tapping rhythm pattern and an annoyingly addictive hook, and pummel the audience with it incessantly (with minor variations in texture), until the drone fills the entire consciousness -- the Daft Punk way. The Experiment doesn't have that robotic elegance, however; for the most part, it revels in kitsch, piling layers upon layers of gloriously primitive beats, melodies, and sound effects, and peppering it with equally silly lyrics like grade schoolers pretending to be indie darlings. Sure, it's meant to be tongue in cheek, but when dragged for too long, the joke begins to look like the real thing; like there's no irony in this bastard offspring of danceable new wave and a Pacman theme. Meanwhile, in their best moments, Art Versus Science can pull off a clever and hypnotic mix of techno and propulsive Krautrock that brings to mind Holy Fuck and LCD Soundsystem, or give fellow Aussies Empire of the Sun a run for their money with the romantic "With Thoughts." Those moments show that the guys can go beyond mindless electro-pop and craft a more intricate atmosphere than that of a dimly lit and trash-littered dancefloor if they want to. Unfortunately, that's not very often.

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