Instruments of Science and Technology

Music from the Films of R/Swift (Secretly Canadian)

Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Richard Swift is something of a Cole PorterPaul McCartney hybrid, constructing pop tunes built upon a solid base of Americana and Tin Pan Alley. But his latest project, Instruments of Science and Technology, flips the script, focusing on quietly throbbing experiments in Eno-esque ambience and Kraftwerkian beat journeys. The careful laying of sounds, evident on "Shooting a Rhino Between the Shoulders," offers proof that Swift understands his Krautrock, even if the striking similarities among songs and uniform track sequencing (ambient noise, pulsating tech-rock, rinse and repeat) prove problematic. But this early-electronic excursion is meant more for hypnotic relaxation than as a variety show. Before Swift launches into a bed of live drums and Trans Am vocoder vocals, the opening sample of the driving "Inst" captures the essence of the project: "The best way to relax is to lie down upon your bed and stretch out." Ditto this mostly instrumental affair. Fleeting bits and pieces of dub, hip-hop, and even '90s illbient make their way into the mix, but for the most part, Swift sounds as if he's found his comfort zone by venturing completely out of his element.

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