Blue Moon Tavern, Seattle, 01/09/17
During my visit to Seattle last month, I had the pleasure of catching the city’s premier synthpop band, The Science of Deduction, at the Blue Moon Tavern on Friday 1st September.
They’re generally described as synthpop, but really there’s a whole lot more to The Science of Deduction’s sound, their personal description being ‘Dark Synthpop Dance-throb’. They have an instantly dramatic and captivating sound, combining complex and infectiously catchy electronic rhythms with pulsating basslines and a distinctive rock guitar wail. And the driving, intense rhythms of their songs are propelled forward by the deep, impassioned vocals of lead singer Cathy Sorbo. It’s a distinctive sound that will grab even the most casual listener’s attention.
Tonight at Blue Moon Tavern in their native Seattle, The Science of Deduction deliver a triumphant and enthralling set, demonstrating the raw power of their live act. And they are the perfect band to challenge the ever-persisting allegations that electronic bands are robotic and soulless, for they are certainly anything but this. They have all the raw energy necessary for a spontaneous and dynamic live show, under the command of Cathy Sorbo’s powerful and engaging stage presence. Cathy’s background is in stand-up comedy, having been active on the US comedy circuit since the early 80s as part of the comedic acapella duo The Sympathy Cards, before touring worldwide as a solo act, at one point being made into a cartoon character for MTV. Her role as vocalist with TSOD allows Cathy her much-belated recognition as a singer, and about time too, as there’s no denying that she is a natural born frontwoman. Her intense, impassioned vocal delivery is striking, authoritative, emotional and seductive all at once, easily giving New Wave icons such as Debbie Harry and Siouxsie Sioux a run for their money. And the raw energy of her vocal works perfectly against the band’s driving and intrepid electro-rock rhythms, enticing the listener into TSOD’s dark, alluring and mysterious world. On stage, the strength of her vocal is complemented by her captivating stage presence. Her theatrical dance movements, piercing stare and in-between song banter with the audience lends her performance a flamboyance and a deadpan humour that easily commands a crowd’s full attention.
Behind her, dual keyboardists Doug Hallet- the man behind the driving bass rhythms- and Jim Jones, the lyricist- do their business on the electronics, delivering the soundscape of intense rhythms so central to the band’s sound. At the back of the stage, guitarist Echo Wanderer delivers a frenetic, distortion-heavy guitar wail, adding a raucous rock’n’roll energy to the band’s indomitable wall of sound. His position at the rear, hiding behind a pair of shades, could easily have rendered him a subtle, low-key presence, yet somehow, through his excellent guitar work and a touch of subtle theatrical humour in his motions, Echo makes his own stage presence very much felt, complementing Cathy’s presence nicely.
The band’s set consists of a selection of eight songs, several of which are taken from their album “Blue Ocean Rising, Red Blood Running”, including the infectiously powerful opener “Eleven Years” as well as “Club Clone” – written about the desire to clone one’s self to be able to get to more than one club in a single night, or so the clone can go out and do the partying while you laze at home. The enthrallingly catchy “James Joyce (Is Going Blind)”, using Joyce’s eyesight loss as a metaphor for the decline of culture, is a surefire highlight of the set, together with the most recent single “The Separation”, and the brilliant “Transparent Blue” which closes the set as Cathy saunters out into the audience, handing out maracas to members of the crowd as the set approaches its triumphant end.
Seattle is best known for the rock and grunge bands that have earned the city its powerful reputation in the music world in recent decades. The Science of Deduction are a shining example of the electronic side of the city, its four members all having come from their own diverse backgrounds to bring their influences – from 80s Post-Punk to contemporary dance-pop – together into the amalgamation of pop and Alt Rock that we heard tonight. Dark lyrics and intense, brooding rhythms, but also upbeat melodies and a touch of wry humour in Cathy Sorbo’s vocal delivery and stage presence render this band firmly on the barrier between alternative and mainstream. A healthy barrier that makes them accessible to many. TSOD have recently signed a contract with an LA-based music publisher agreeing to the use of their music in films and TV shows, so we should be hearing much more from this band in the near future as they deservedly become the soundtrack to our viewing entertainment – perfect for a band with such visually powerful soundscapes, whose music would sound perfect in a surreal detective thriller or sci-fi show. The Science of Deduction did their hometown proud tonight, and are set to prove themselves the most prominent landmark on Seattle’s understated electronica circuit.
The Science of Deduction Bandcamp page:
‘The Separation’ audio:
Video playlist of the show: