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Aspects of Physics :: Reviews PIck of the WEek!!

Delusions of Adequacy

To anyone familiar with San Diego band Physics, the migration to pure and applied science and glitch n’ bleep atmospherics should not come as too much of a surprise. Throughout a good part of the 90s, Physics was a well-kept cottage industry secret, sequestered in, and often overshadowed by, the San Diego scene’s conveyance of antiseptic and tepid kiddie punk. The band plied much of its forays into early post-rock and math-y krautrock structures before most fans had even owned their first Can or Faust records. Physics1, a compilation of singles and loosely collected tracks from the early 90s, is an essential purchase worth tracking down. The band was also made up of a loose collective of members from Heavy Vegetable, Three Mile Pilot, Thingy, and most notably Pinback. This experimental collective of sound enthusiasts is acknowledged saviours of a San Diego scene that, for many, was mostly known for foisting insipid and odious suburban mall-punk rock of the Blink 182 ilk on the nation's ears.

As Physics shuffled off its mortal coil, it thankfully gave birth to Aspects of Physics, with Physics principle members Jason Soares and JRE ‘Robot’ Coad in tow. If getting your mouth around the risible title of its second record, Marginalized Information Forms One: Ping, provides rolled-eyes and incredulity, the music therein should lessen any temperance or whiff of precious effete self-indulgence. Physics’ arcane dabbling in electro-acoustics and hints of granular analog circuitry has now born fruit from an evocative tree of glitch-filled layers of bumping video game collage-scapes mixed with ambient guitar textures.

The beginning Morse Code heartbeat of opening track “Ping” signals a distant shore with a radar’s pulse and sputtering analog circuitry before it ushers in a Tortoise-meets-Trans Am guitar line. Throughout its nine-minute travelogue, the song unfolds with shards of electro static and intertwining guitars while racing down an autobahn at top speed. Follow-up track “Neutrino” is a chilled-out ice cream headache with bleeped percussion and oscillating keyboards that carom off the interplay between two angular guitar lines. “Plippus” starts with cracked wire speaker fluff, only to land on a gentle pillow of Godspeed-esque layered guitars and phased-out Fender Rhodes electric piano. Aspects of Physics consistently pulls off the marvellous trick of diffusing the debris from causing too much alienation and lets the wonderful subtleties breath rather than lapse into IDM gimmickry and self-indulgent torpor. Certainly, it is the warmth of the guitars glow and sustained tones that buttresses any of the austere iciness on Marginalized Information Forms. Mind you, there is ample cone melting crackle for fans of the Rephlex and Warp labels.

If this is all sounds a bit too “I Sing the Body Electric,” rest assured this is far from automatons waging war in abandoned industrial sheds. Marginalized Information Forms is more of a multimedia sound gallery vernisage — without the austerity of cold museums floors and walls — rather than an arid smoke-filled indie-rock club. The album is not just erstwhile indie math-rock refugees slumming it in electronica or IDM; rather, it is a well-conceived testament to the root organic nature of ambient and post-rock’s chance meeting on a Kraftwerk-inspired laptop dissecting table. Smart, textural, mature, and utterly listenable from start to finish.