Dead Science

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Submariner (2003), 5/10
Frost Giant (2005), 5/10
Villainaire (2008), 5/10

Dead Science, a Seattle trio formed by guitarist and vocalist Sam Mickens and bassist Jherek Bischoff, filled Submariner (Absolutely Kosher, 2003) with slow and brooding jazz-tinged ballads like Tension at Pitch with a peak of pathos in the seven-minute elegy Unseeing Eye. The EP Bird Bones In The Bughouse (2004) is a worthwhile corollary.

The best songs of Frost Giant (Absolutely Kosher, 2005), with new drummer Nick Tamburro, were more vibrant and at the same time more discordant. Intricate patterns contrast with the passionate crooning in Last Return and especially Drrrty Magneto. The trio was drifting towards the prog-rock style of Elaine DiFalco's Caveman Shoestore and Amy Denio, with the avant-poppy sensibility of Carla Bozulich's Geraldine Fibbers. Mickens' vocals are now a feeble falsetto and occasionally it sounds like he's fainting (Sam Mickens' Dream, Lil Half Dead), an effect that detracts from the power of the music.

Villainaire (Constellation, 2008) begins with a demonstration of how they can fuse the unlikely element of a classical harp, a funky rhythm and melismatic falsetto in Throne of Blood. Then they indulge in the symphonic emphasis of The Dancing Destroyer and in the Middle-eastern shuffle Make Mine Marvel, one of their best songs ever. The jarring and discordant Monster Island Czars is typical of their modus operandi. Alas, the album loses quickly momentum after the first four songs, becoming one long litany.

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