Experimenting with sound

Justin Brake
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Halifax electronica duo Scientists of Sound returns to St. John’s this weekend for one-off gig on George Street

Scientists of Sound play to an appreciative crowd. — Submitted photo

When it comes to fitting band names, it doesn’t get any more appropriate than this.

Craig Mercer and Aaron Collier are Scientists of Sound, and the two are experimenting with their music in ways few others are.

The Halifax musicians are the remnants of now defunct popular indie Rocktronica outfit Jimmy Swift Band (JSB), and they’re taking that same tangly, impulsive technique that made theirs one of the East Coast’s most appreciated live acts over the past decade to a whole new level.

Knock out the rock, throw in some killer looping competency, hide yourself under lab coasts and masks and teleport your audience to a dance club with live band energy, and there you have it — Scientists of Sound.

More in line with Daft Punk and MSTRCRFT than the jam band influences of JSB, Scientists was at one time intentional as a side project and unforeseeable as a serious thing.

Born out of the ashes of the JSB after its breakup last spring, Mercer and Collier already had the project in the works.

“We had been playing together as Scientists of Sound for about a year and a half,” explains Mercer. “It was born out of the other guys (in JSB) showing up late for rehearsals, so we sort of came up with this concept of forming this looping duo. So when JSB disbanded we decided to keep going and it’s been going great for us.

“JSB was a rock band essentially,” he continues. “And this is not a rock band. This is dance music. And, you know, there’s some vocals but no distinctive rock ’n’ roll melodies like JSB had. So in that way it’s very, very different from what we were doing then. But, you know, I think that JSB did have some material that was moving toward this direction. So we kind of took it to a new level with this band.”

Not long after the Jimmy Swift demise, in a single day Scientists of Sound tracked a six-track  EP, “Wealth and Hellness,” which gave JSB and new fans alike a taste of things to come from the persistent duo.

“It was a pretty ‘let’s slap this together and get it out there’ kind of affair,” Mercer recalls. We’re in the process now of working on a new record, which we’re spending a lot of time at and and are really proud of the material that’s on it. So we’re really excited to play some of those new songs this weekend actually, in St. John’s.”

With some production credentials under their belt, Mercer and Collier are handling the record-making process themselves and, Mercer says jokingly, will release the debut full-length hopefully sometime in this millennium.

“We’re taking our time (because) we want to make it as good as it can be, and when it’s as good as it can be we’re going to put it out there.”

In the meantime, Scientists of Sound’s performance at The Rock House this weekend will mark the duo’s third trip to St. John’s.

And that’s a treat given the attention they’re getting from abroad.

“We’ve been fortunate to be able to travel this country and do some travelling in other countries recently, and we’ve had gig offers from places in Europe and people are finding us all over the place,” says Mercer.

“We’re making music that’s very different than what most people are, and we’re making it in a different way than most people are, so it’s definitely a very interesting show to see.

“And as a result we’re getting lots of interest in it.”

Scientists of Sound perform at The Rock House Saturday night. They will be joined by supporting acts Physical Patrick, Worker and Outlandaa. Showtime is 10 p.m. and cover is $12 at the door.

Organizations: The Rock House

Geographic location: George Street, East Coast, Europe

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