A couple of months ago, I stumbled upon the work of a rapper and captivating storyteller based out of Minneapolis, by the name of Astronautalis. I instantly found myself drawn in. Although he’s pigeonholed as a rapper, I see his music leaning more toward a peculiar, but brilliant mix of rap, indie-rock, and folk that may not appeal to common or casual listeners of hip hop. Through his music, he comes off as an intelligent, experienced, and insightful artist.
After his 2008 release Pomegranate received plenty of positive appraisals from, well, everyone who’d heard it, the badassness of This Is Our Science was definitely highly anticipated. And with many considering it one of the best releases of the year, it definitely did not disappoint.
The album begins with “The River, The Woods,” which, with its uncomplicated yet stimulating drum work, sounds like the closest thing to hip hop on the entire album. Right off the bat, Astronautalis displays experience and familiarity in the way he raps, effectively utilizing his background in battle rap. He also demonstrates his versatility on the catchy chorus, enthusiastically articulating his fervor on the subject. This paves the way for “This Is Our Science,” which is a lot calmer in comparison. “Measuring the Globe” has a great indie rock vibe, which I found particularly appealing because of its pleasant simplicity. The tracks that follow all have a touch of that Astronautalis uniqueness, and of course, something thoughtful to say.
“Age never meant shit to me– it’s all about heart and stupidity.”
Throughout the album, Astronautalis puts his great voice to work. He seems to like sporadically using it in an impetuous and brusque way, and when appropriate, switches over to a more subtle tone that’s somewhat reminiscent of Lou Reed’s (The Velvet Underground.) However, his voice is just a means of delivering his abstract, rousing lyricism, which seems to be deeply linked to intangible concepts, and his own passionate connections to music (“Thomas Jefferson,”) and women (“Measure the Globe”) among other things. “Midday Moon” was perhaps the only song on the album that I didn’t like, in part because of the production.
All in all, if you’re into creative music that wanders far from the norm of today’s music industry, This Is Our Science is for you. My favorite tracks on the album were Measure The Globe, The River, The Woods, and Contrails.