The Dropscience – Experimenting with Contrast

The Dropscience
Experimenting with Contrast

On the cover of this album – a sort of cool, translucent yellow cover – proclaims that this album, Experimenting with Contrast, is “an audio interpretation of color, light and space.” This, you see, is rather remarkable. The Dropscience have really hit upon something here. You see, they’ve discovered that when color, light, and space are reinterpreted, they sound exactly like Fugazi and early Sonic Youth records. No shit. Exactly the same. It sort of leads one to wonder whether or not Sonic Youth and Fugazi actually knew that they were sonically representing things as simple as color, light and space. Fascinating, simply fascinating.
All kidding aside, the Dropscience do sound remarkably like the bands mentioned above. They’ve got it all – the note-for-note Ian Mackaye rendition, the duel guitars snaking themselves around those hypnotic, infectious, grooving basslines, and the formless, morphing song structures. They’ve even got the whole pretentious thing down pat. I do realize that people have been copying these bands rather shamelessly since the late 80s, but occasionally it wears on you. Normally I’m the first one to praise a band for a good DC sound rip or patchwork song structures. Quite frankly, the Dropscience do all of this remarkably well, and way better than most. It’s just that I can’t find even one little shred of originality in this band. A few months ago, I reviewed a band out of Minnesota called Volare, and while they did their fare share of imitating, they still allowed the music to shape and form in new ways. The Dropscience, do not.
I guess the thing that bugs me the most about this album is that the singer is given way too much room to breathe, and the guitars never get a chance to ferment. I guess in that way, they’re a bit more like Fugazi. The problem with the Dropscience though, is that they tend to write really long songs. This album only has nine songs and it clocks in at over 73 minutes. That means you often get six- and seven-minute songs, which is ok, except that Ian Mackaye never really had a spectacular voice in the first place, and to hear someone impersonate his cathartic growl for six minutes at a time is sort of grating. If they let the guitarists – who both seem rather talented – shine through the mix and let the song cascade through the feedback that they restrain so remarkably through each track, then I would be more than willing to indulge the singer his parts. The only problem is, the guitars never break out. They sit around like your lazy ass on a hot summer day, probably thinking something like “man, I should really get out” but never really mustering up the energy to do so. Every once in a while, usually 10- and 15-second portions of each song (the band has conveniently forgotten to title their songs), the guitars do whorl about and mix a bit. On the fifth song in, they actually get it right. The song is a slow burner until the six-minute mark or so. The lead singer doesn’t sound so tone-deaf. The guitars chime and stir and rouse and blister. This, however, is too little, too late.
The most frustrating thing about this band is they’re so obviously good. The guitar work, when it is allowed to take center stage, is superb. The rhythm section burns. Even the vocalist has the right idea. They draw their inspirations from all the right places. I could forgive them for their formulaic derivations if they either shortened their songs or unleashed those axes. Until then, I feel frustrated, teased, and unfulfilled. Maybe they’ll expand a bit on their next offering. Here’s hoping.