Art and Science – The Music Therapy Experiment (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Long before you even get to the moment when you start playing the music, TMTE offers a lot of intriguing ideas and interesting elements to think about. Firstly titles. Titles are important. They speak volumes. Take Istanbul Hovercraft, just those two words together are intriguing, songs with names such as Casting Nasturtiums shows that they favour humour and wordplay and Boom Bada De Nada tells you that TMTE world-view is not as serious as the name might first suggest.

Also, naming an album based on the idea that music is a sort of sonic love child of Art and Science shows that they understand that it can be all things to all people, a place where craft and disciple, expression and training, spirituality and well-being, the high brow and the not so, all wash up on the same creative shore.

Art and Science is a cool and deftly crafted collection of instrumentals kicking off with Indomitable, a buoyant bundle of bass and beats with liquid and wilfully languid guitar lines cooling down the energy being generated below. And if you are looking for comparisons, TMTE is often pretty open about influences, the next track, Stealing Dan giving you a clue via a sort of in-joke…you either get it or you don’t…a soulful and scintillating piece of jazz-infused rock, immediately reminiscent of…well, I’m not going to spoil the joke by giving away the punch line am I?

I’m not even going to think about what Willamina Thunderbroom’s Magnificent Philistine Zinnias might be about but it is a strange and adventurous song, blending busy beats with a sort of strange futuristic guitar. Baby Snakes alive and Zoot Allures, it’s great! (See, two can play at that game.)

There are slow and sensual tracks such as the aforementioned and puntastic Casting Nasturtiums, a graceful waltz that is delicate and delicious, eloquent and elegant but also ornate and complex, there are jazzy, prog meanderings with Intersteller Jellyfish, the deft understatement and classical vibes of Long Goodbyes and more beat-driven and rock aware moments such as Akhal Teke.

In more enlightened times it would be easy to see where TMTE would fit into the musical map…somewhere between Steely Dan’s west coast sophistication and Zappa’s more “out there” unpredictability, today it is harder to posit. Guitar fans will love the soloing, broad-minded jazzers will understand the musical map which is being explored, prog-rockers will marvel at the structures and fans of cinematic soundscapes will be on board too.

Music such as this isn’t made with fad or fashion in mind anyway and can only be done successfully when the people behind the song are 100% focus on the music they are making rather than worrying about the bigger picture or whichever sonic zietgest happens to be blowing through.

Art and Science is the sound of people 257% focused on the task at hand. Perhaps more.

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