What is this, a magazine compilation? Songs to help you decode the human genome? Almost. Andy Rohrmann, a.k.a. Scientific American, makes music with a computer. That isn’t necessarily a new thing nowadays, but making melodic mixes of rock, strings, and hip-hop is somewhat rare. DJ Shadow proved he could do it, and so could Boards of Canada and Manitoba. Add Scientific American to that list, as well.
Once upon a time, Andy Rohrmann was in a band called Hush Harbor, a Seattle indie band that also included John Atkins who later started 764-HERO. The band didn’t last that long and Andy started making music on the computer. Now, Rohrmann makes a living by writing music for Volkswagen and Discover commercials. Don’t be fooled though. Rohrmann knows the difference between creating art and creating business.
Scientific American is the name for his artistic outlet. Strong for the Future is the second such outpouring and is a stunning record. This is music to read Philip K. Dick by. I am reminded of his books mainly because of the similarity in nature between the two artists. Dick’s books are science fiction in the truest sense of the words. There is an element of science in each book, which is the realm in which the fiction is set. But it is truly philosophical fiction. The novels could take place in any time and place. It is the fact that Dick chooses the near future that makes them science fiction. The same can be said for Scientific American.
Even though his music is created on a computer, that part is secondary to the composition. It is Rohrmann’s song structures and melodies that take center stage. His music is an interesting conglomerate of Flaming Lips’ pop, old school hip-hop a la M.A.R.R.S., and ethereal landscape music that is garnering the term `space tundra.’ Scientific American gets some help from a whole handful of artists of different media. Old friend John Atkins appears on “Drift in Space” doing his best Wayne Coyne impression. Another Seattle artist, painter and singer Ejak, appears on “Your Utopia.” Bootsy Holler, a Seattle photographer, sings on the title track and “The Seas are the Skies.”
Strong for the Future is proof that true art and beauty can be made with ones and zeros. Whoever said computers couldn’t feel? Well, anyway, at least we know that Andy Rohrmann does and he’s the one manipulating the darn thing.
Manitoba- Up in Flames
Boards of Canada- Music Has the Right to Children
Four Tet- Rounds