The Scientifics – Green Wave

The Scientifics
Green Wave

First of all, before we discuss The Scientifics, we need to momentarily discuss most people’s history with Casio brand keyboards. Now I’m not referring to anything made in the last 10 years, I’m talking about the lap-sized toy kind you received for Christmas when you were 10 and were just dying with happiness about. Two weeks later, the keyboard ended up in your closet and went completely unnoticed until maybe the next Cub Scout tag sale. All is good. So a few years later, you buy some new records your parents aren’t too crazy about, make some new friends, buy a secondhand electric guitar from a pawn shop, and start a rock band. You spent a couple years impressing the ladies with your Townsend-style windmill-powerchording-leaps off your amp, and you’re generally learning the ropes and having a blast doing so. And once again, all is good.
Now this is where some people branch off. Either you continue your rock-n-roll fantasies and go straight, or you veer slightly right. You buy some even newer records that now your friends aren’t too crazy about. Words like “analog,” “frequencies,” and “vintage” pop into your vocabulary. Your drummer is insulted by your new drum machine and refuses to talk to you. Then after accumulating a large collection of vintage Electro Harmonix and MXR effects pedals, you ask your band mates if you can bring a “Moog” into the mix of the band. Out of pure fear that you’ve completely lost your mind, they kick you out of the band. Now you’re alone in your basement, or wherever. All is decently good.
So one day, while picking through your closet looking for that Alf t-shirt you had when you were a kid, you stumble across your old Casio Sk-1 or Sk-5 (or if you were really lucky, a ‘Rapman’). You hunt around for some AA batteries and turn it on. A realization! It’s a perfectly legitimate instrument! (given the chance of course).
My guess is that Eliot Rose, seemingly the brains behind The Scientifics, went through a historical pattern very similar to the one detailed above. The beauty of this mostly home-recorded record is that in its blistering simplicity, it is so very complete. Almost every sound and note recorded has in some way been modified gloriously with a god-only-knows assortment of equipment. They spin and sweep around your head, tapping your ears with their tiny fingers and flying away before you can look. You will not recognize your childhood keyboard anywhere on here. It takes a very dedicated ear to hear and realize everything that is going on at once.
But you really have to give it its chance. The first time you realize his ability to write a beautiful vocal hook and melody comes in around the two-minute mark of the second track “Real New Waver.” It’s simply just amazing, and you will stick with it through to the end to catch all the layering and textures that he lays down for you. Eliot Rose keeps delivering equal parts simple pop simplicities (“My Bulldozer”), and pure innovation (the stunning “Cops”).
Some people may find some songs to be a bit repetitive, but that’s all a matter of taste and patience. “We go Valhalla” is the weakest of the bunch, dragging along, and not really offering anything on the level as the rest of the album. “Superblock” starts off slow but will snag your attention back after a few minutes.
What it comes down to is that if you are excited by the following statement, you will really love this: “Holy smokes! He’s slightly flanging the portomento trumpet setting on a circuit-bent Sk-5, running it through an RV-3, then reversing it on a handheld tape recorder held over the humbuckers of his guitar!” But if you simply like gloriously quirky and soothing quiet pop music, then I’m sure you’ll love it too.