After 25 seconds of a cosmic synthesized haze, a low-pitched Incubus-like riff warbles through the static, and it’s like listening to Morning View for the first time all over again. We’re talking about “Eye Can Sea Space,” the title track of Dr. Asimov’s three-song follow-up to 2009’s Took a Cure. The last time The Pulse wrote about Dr. Asimov, it was a review of Took a Cure; the reviewer couldn’t quite make heads or tails of it, but took note of grunge and post-punk influences. Perhaps Eye Can Sea Space can clarify.
M.C. Ascher, Tiny Wrench, Spanky Burns and Ben Spencer are the mad scientists behind Dr. Asimov and when written out, the tracks of Eye Can Sea Space look like an equation of mathematical symbols and plays on words. Ascher sings, sometimes in a characterized growl-screech like Billy Talent, of drugstores and bewitchment. They appropriately cite “outerspace” as an influence, and instrumentally speaking, it sounds as though they had their minds on something slightly celestial. What may turn some off about Dr. Asimov is that the sound is hard to interpret. Where does it fit? Dark bass lines sound like danger and rattling thumps on the snare build tension and break. Provocative but understated riffs give way to post-hardcore vocal growling and distortion, like hook-up-in-a-divebar-bathroom music mixed with skate park music.
“I open my eyes like two apertures fast and wide,” sings Ascher on the first track, which carries on for four and a half minutes in layers of sound and suspended silence, and you never quite know where the song will lead. A panic riff opens “Fish & Onions [+]” before waves of synth and low-pitched fingerplucking back the proclamation, “Went to the drugstore/found a cure for death/went to the drugstore/ate all the drugs left.” Lyrics are completely not the point of this album; the most lyric-heavy track was the third and last, “Witch Lover [-].” Heavy distortion takes over for a minute and a half in Queens of the Stone Age fashion as Ascher growls, “Witch love. Get some,” before an abrupt finish.
Eye Can Sea Space seems like it could all be one long, multi-faceted song, but post-punk influence? Definitely. Grunge? A version of it. A jarring but well-crafted album? Yes.