Swarf’s debut album is a lot more upbeat than anything you’d ordinarily find me listening to. Ranging from synthpop to trip-hop and even to soaring trance, Art Science Exploitation explores a number of genres of upbeat electronic dance music. Programmers Chris Kiefer and Andrew Stock are masters of their craft and have done their homework here, but Swarf’s real appeal comes from singer Liz Green. Green has the kind of voice that can sound heavenly or sorrowful or pissed and yet always so sweet it almost hurts your teeth. It’s a kind of voice I’ve noticed in other British female singers (Toni Halliday of Curve, for example, or even All About Eve’s Julianne Reagan), and it’s what ultimately keeps me going back to this album over and over. Her voice soars over the heavenly trance of “Supine,” yelps delightfully on “Grey,” and growls angrily through “Subtext.” Slower pieces like “Shadows” and “Sorrow” see her sinking into a slower, more sensual groove. These pieces, like Massive Attack’s work with Elizabeth Frazier or even like Dubstar at their best, retain a lovely pop sensibility while exploring darker soundscapes and minor key piano melodies. Still, though, it’s the perky rave tracks that find me speeding down the freeway with Swarf blaring out of my windows at top volume, head bobbing to the beat as Green’s voice swirls around me. Just don’t tell my goth friends.
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