Former LA-, currently Oregon-based singer/songwriter Richard Swift is something of a Cole Porter-Paul McCartney hybrid, constructing pop tunes built on a solid base of Americana and Tin Pan Alley. But his latest project, Instruments of Science N Technology, flips the script, focusing on quietly throbbing experiments in Eno-esque ambiance and Kraftwerkian beat journeys.
The careful laying of sounds, evident on “Shooting a Rhino Between the Shoulders,” offers proof that Swift understands his krautrock, even if the striking similarities among songs and uniform track sequencing (ambient noise, pulsating techno-rock, rinse and repeat) prove problematic. But this early-electronic-music excursion is meant more for hypnotic relaxation than as variety show. Before he launches into a bed of live drums and Trans Am-like vocoder vocals, the opening sample of the driving “INST” captures the essence of the project: “The best way to relax is to lie down upon your bed and stretch out.”
Ditto this mostly instrumental affair. Fleeting bits and pieces of dub, hip-hop and even '90s illbient make their way into the mix, but for the most part, Swift sounds like he has found his comfort zone by venturing completely out of his element.