Actively producing work for nearly 40 years, Crash Course in Science have long since established themselves as a respected force in the electronic music underground. Unyielding and uncompromising, their catalog of cutting edge recordings have not only become highly sought after, but are also considered essential to any serious collector's archive. "Situational Awareness" continues that storied run by taking a savvy step toward today's dance club scene both in composition and in sonics. At least eight of the ten songs on this album are expressly geared for making bodies spring into action and do exactly that. Thicker production and a stout lower end drive most of this music to a place where thump meets frenzy. And like their early work, these songs are growling, gritty, and with the real genius continuing to be in their ability to make shrewd artistic observations about the world around them. With sudden abstract jarrings created by unusual juxtapositions of music and lyric content, they exercise an uncanny ability to point out the obvious while giving the listener a new angle of context. A sort of double layered insight that not only makes the observation, but then comments on that very process. In short, while CCIS keenly cover new ground with "Situational Awareness," the endearing qualities that have attracted listeners for decades remain in tact.
Pulsating synthesizer and companion saw tooth sequence in hand, the album opens with "Some Change," an uptempo and high energy assault on the senses. Accentuated by Michael Zodorozny's sharp wit and razor tongued lyric delivery, the song lands somewhere between social commentary and the wanton perception of a confident infatuation. Trenchant, powerful, and effective, it not only sets the tone for LP, but flags the fore mentioned move towards the dance floor.
"Distant Drum" follows, and as the title suggests, it refers to a metaphoric drum as a beacon of inspiration and inward reflection. Short on time (song length) and long on imagery, the track makes an excellent segue to "Fake Plastic" which might be the best song on the LP.
An infectious club monster, "Fake Plastic" is an acute discourse of plastic's cheesy nature and ironically annoying longevity. Mallory Yago's savage yet seductive critique of those who purchase, wear, manufacture, and will still study plastic in the future (archeology), not only slams the pervasive durable substance, but her delivery seems to be poking fun at those who carry the artsy gene. Humorous, beat heavy, and forever relevant, "Fake Plastic" has the potential to become a CCIS classic on the level of "Cardboard Lamb" or "Flying Turns." It really is one of those "can't hear it enough" tracks that will no doubt burn itself into the conscience of many hip party goers and nocturnal club actors.
Anything but with an anti-climax, side one comes to an end with "So Pantsed," an electronic punk rant built around a phrase that we all used as sophomoric youths but amusingly is nowhere to be found in an academic dictionary. Vocally venerating the likes of Johnny Thunders or The Vibrators, its raucous commotion harkens back to the dawn of mosh pit culture while making a point about being schooled or being out of your depth.
Flip the disc and "Miscommunication" so nails the ambiguity of mixed signals and the anxiety it induces. Metered by its alarm like sequence and driven by various ominous basses, its perceptive and dialed vocal delivery makes it one of the premier tracks on the album. Next up is "Drive" a psychedelic dance composition constructed atonally. Straight forward and methodical, long oscillations and philosophical lyrics conjure up visions of after hours dance club hypnosis and a "Tomorrow Never Knows" like search for "the" inner meaning.
Each of the remaining tracks are just as interesting and non formulaic, with the work fitting together in a meaningful and musically cohesive way. Nothing one dimensional here, "Situational Awareness" is an ambitious and eclectic LP that succeeds on so many levels. It serves the mind looking to blow off some steam and dance the night away, and it satisfies the sophisticated purveyor of nuance and literary awareness. A must have vinyl LP for electronic music enthusiasts, the layers are there to meet any needs. And for those that lean CD, Electronic Emergencies (Netherlands) has recently released a beautiful digi-pak gatefold version with an extra remix track. Highly recommended.
Artist Link: https://www.facebook.com/Crash-Course-in-Science-177747285586892/