Recently I came across a cover of Fast Company, a primarily business-oriented magazine, that caught my eye due to its title: #unplug. The author, Baratunde Thurston, took a 25-day leave from technology (sort of) and just recently wrote his story detailing the experience.
Just looking at the title I couldn’t help but get a little angry. Did the editors of Fast Company (who I assume came up with the title) not realize the irony of putting a hashtag in the name of a story about disconnecting from technology?
What does this have to do with the latest release from Scientists of Sound, you may be asking? This core concept of dealing with technology (particularly its negative qualities) reverberates throughout the album. The album’s title track features a pretty heavy set of lyrics: “We got electric scissors/We got man-made rivers/We got gadgets for days/We’re like rats in a maze.” Clearly the guys of this group aren’t happy about the way we coexist with that which we’ve created. You can feel the venom dripping from the track “PONTIAC” as the guys sing “You’ve got your first-world problems and I’ve got mine” and later “We’ve got more problems than we’ve got time.”
They also, however, are aware of the way they make music—Electric Scissors is a full-on electronic affair, pulsing with all manners of synths, samples, distorted vocals and the occasional bit of guitar. This self-awareness manifests itself in the group’s Kuato-esque style of naming songs, with tracks like “Statik Klingon” and “Furiosity Killed the Cat.”
There’s always a tension between two opposing forces as the album progresses. One is the force of pure fun. The album is a perfect soundtrack to a party, and it’s full of songs that are over three minutes long, providing for ample room to dance. “Run With It” features a flurry of frantic keys and the sounds of strings that can’t help but propel the listener’s limbs forward. “Stare the Wolf in the Eyes (and become him but stronger)” is a huge dose of testosterone that invites massive headbanging.
The other force at work is the one already described; there’s a sense of existential dread that lurks on the peripheral of all of the fun, danceable music. The closer “Mothership,” for example, has all manners of chirping synthesizers, but lines like “We’re running out of time” stand out, so clearly something sinister might be on its way.
The “doomsday” underpinning of Electric Scissors makes this album surprisingly good, far more than if it was simply just another collection of electronic music made for dancing.