Too hip-hop for Warp, not gangsta enough for Def Jam, Apsci have a name that stands for Applied Science, and they earn it.
Hailing respectively from Jersey and Australia, husband and wife Raphael La Motta and Dana Diaz-Tutaan both handle production via laptop and vocals (Raphael rhymes, Dana sings). DJ Big Wiz adds vinyl scratching and rapping, and Guy Licata plays drum set. While some may find live drums in a hip-hop act old hat, Licata is a rare breed, teaching electronic/hip-hop drumming at downtown contemporary music institute the Collective and currently working with drum and bass heavyweight Bill Laswell.
Thanks for Asking has been touted as an autobiographical diary of La Motta and Diaz-Tutaan’s journey together as married couple and co-musicians, but what makes Apsci intriguing is the way they manipulate their rhymes around the beats and grooves. The lyrics are catchy, the content comes in one- or two-measure snippets, and the pulse doesn’t quit. The sampled effects spin street sounds backward, then lay them down with real drums in real time—a concept reminiscent of Björk on Vespertine or Post. Apsci might be at the tail end, chronologically speaking, of “intelligent or backpacker hip-hop,” but few records lately have so intriguingly merged the organic with the electronic.